WITH pressure emanating from both above and below it on the BFNL ladder, South Bendigo is facing a must-win clash against a rejuvenated Eaglehawk on Saturday.
The Bloods, who were without goal shooting recruit Ash Gilmore (calf), bounced back from a disappointing loss to Kangaroo Flat in round nine to score a big win over Golden Square last week.
A 79-29 victory moved them within two-points of a spot in the top three behind Gisborne, which crashed to a loss against Sandhurst.
But it's a similar margin that separates South Bendigo and fifth-placed Castlemaine, meaning the Bloods immediate fortunes could go one of two ways depending on its result against the Hawks.
While 21-goals separated the two teams earlier in the year in a South Bendigo win, this shapes as a much tighter contest.
The Hawks, after a mixed start to the season, have played themselves into some good recent form, highlighted by a 25-goal win over Strathfieldsaye last week.
It was a 31-goal turnaround from earlier in the season.
Bloods coach Jannelle Hobbs said there was no doubt Eaglehawk was on the improve.
"They have had some nice recent scorelines, so we are expecting this to be very tough," she said.
"We are just refining what we are doing and hopefully we can come up with a really good four quarter game.
"We want to focus on our full-court defence and just apply pressure all over.
"Our conversion has been really good; we've had a high shooting percentage.
"So full court pressure and making the most of the balls we get is the aim."
MORE BFNL NETBALL
Given its ladder predicament, and with a showdown against top-side Sandhurst on the horizon, Hobbs said a win on Saturday was of the utmost importance.
For the Bloods, star recruit Chloe Gray comes into the game in exceptional form after a brilliant game for her VNL club Southern Saints on Wednesday night.
After a stirring win over the Storm, Eaglehawk joint coach Eleisha Saunders hopes to see the Hawks pick up where they left off last week.
"From the first game (against South), we will need to up our defensive pressure. We probably let their attacking end have a little bit too much space and that allowed them to do what they wanted," she said.
"(Against Strathfieldsaye) we had really quick, fluent ball movement and we'll need that again.
"We were pretty stagnant when we played them last time and played some pretty predictable netball.
"If we can take our form from last week when we used angles really well and our timing was really good, that will give us an edge over them that we didn't have last time."
In other games, Kyneton risks falling further out of finals contention if it cannot get past Gisborne at Gardiner Reserve.
The sixth-placed Tigers (3-6-1) start the round 10 points behind fifth-placed Castlemaine, which hosts ninth-placed Maryborough (2-8).
Gisborne is aiming to rebound from a 16-goal loss to top-placed Sandhurst.
The Dragons (10-0) face the Storm (3-7) at Strathfieldsaye, while Kangaroo Flat (9-1) clashes with Golden Square (0-10).
The clash of the Magpies at Camp Reserve comes with plenty of intrigue after Castlemaine won the clubs' round two game by only four goals.
Sandhurst 10-0 (200.92%)
Kangaroo Flat 9-1 (195.58 %)
Gisborne 7-3 (129.72%)
South Bendigo 6-3-1 (120.40%)
Castlemaine 6-4 (104.11%)
Kyneton 3-6-1 (104.11%)
Strathfieldsaye 3-7 (78.05%)
Eaglehawk 3-7 (68.75%)
Maryborough 2-8 (80.80%)
Golden Square 0-10 (43.06%).
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