CASTLEMAINE joint coach Fiona Fowler says the opportunity to claim a big scalp will be all the motivation her team needs in Saturday's home clash against Gisborne.
Ten points clear on the ladder of sixth-placed Kyneton, the Magpies are firmly entrenched in fifth spot on the ladder and all but certain to contest finals in their first season back in A-grade since 2017.
But for all their many impressive gains and bright performances, the Magpies have yet to defeat a team above them on the ladder.
Former Super Netball league defender Fowler, who is back in the Magpies line-up after missing the first half of the season following pregnancy, feels this is their chance.
Castlemaine came close to toppling Gisborne earlier in the season, leading by one goal at half time and down by only two at three quarter time, before eventually going down by nine.
The Magpies, who were at less than full strength and down on player numbers on that occasion, will be better equipped this time around, with Fowler expecting all of Mikaela Vaughan, Kelsie Rainbow, Maddy Carter and herself to be in the line-up on Saturday.
"We haven't completely turned the corner, but we've definitely had some more positive results. The results the last two games have been what we expect to see on the scoreboard," she said.
"We've kind of struggled against all teams this year, putting up a pretty good challenge against the top teams, but also just getting over the top of the lower teams.
"No game for us has really been easy in the first half of the season, so to go out against Kyneton and get a scoreline like that (49-31) when we were a skeleton of a team and then beat Maryborough (76-34) after we only won by four last time was really good."
Fowler acknowledged Gisborne, led by her former VNL team-mates Maddy Stewart and Claudia Mawson, and expected to be bolstered by the return of Melbourne Vixens training partner Jordan Cransberg, would be an ultra-tough proposition for the Magpies.
But she remains encouraged by her team's earlier season effort against the Bulldogs at Gisborne.
"That was round three; no one we had on court had really played with each other much and we had players away and didn't really have a bench. We just ran out of legs," Fowler said.
"So we're really excited for this game. There's so many VNL or past VNL players who will be on the court and Gisborne is a lovely team regardless of the scoreline.
"They just go out and play the game and get the job done, but in the spirit of the game as well.
"We have a lot friends from playing VNL with Maddy Stewart and Claudia Mawson, so we're really looking forward to the challenge.
"This time around I think we can give it a real crack and hopefully go the full four quarters."
With another top-five battle between unbeaten Sandhurst and fourth-placed South Bendigo taking centre stage at the QEO, a win over the Bulldogs would give the Magpies the chance to overtake the Bloods on the league ladder.
In other games, Eaglehawk hosts second-placed Kangaroo Flat, Maryborough takes on Golden Square and Kyneton clashes with Strathfieldsaye.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.