IT WASN'T Kangaroo Flat's best netball this season, but coach Jayden Cowling was more than happy to emerge with a pleasing win in Saturday's clash against Castlemaine.
Played at Dower Park, the Roos withstood a spirited early challenge from the Magpies to score a hard-fought 57-38 victory.
It was the top-placed Roos' 14th win from 15 games this season and their 11th in a row.
It was also their second this season over the Magpies, with the 19-goal margin eclipsing their 16-goal triumph at Camp Reserve from earlier in the season.
With the Magpies entering the match on a high after a season-best win over South Bendigo, Cowling was pleased to have banked another important win.
"We got the win, and by 19 is pretty impressive against a quality side in Castlemaine," he said.
"The real positive to take away from the game was beating them by more than we did last time.
"We had some really good patches of netball, but it wasn't our most consistent performance.
"I put that down to the opposition. We made sure we focused on ourselves today, but at times we worried a bit too much about Castlemaine.
"I thought Fiona (Fowler) played an outstanding game at goal keeper and caused some headaches for our attackers.
"I think we were too focused on that instead of playing our short-sharp netball.
"That was their effort. Castlemaine really served it up to us and it was close throughout the game, but we were able to push it out in the end."
In a season in which the Roos have dominated most opposition, with the exception of Sandhurst and next week's opponent Gisborne, Cowling insisted the tough nature of Saturday's win would reap benefits come finals time.
"Sometimes you can win a game without your best-looking netball and sometimes we do need to win ugly," he said.
"They are the kinds of games that help get you over the line in finals.
"There will be tough situations you need to get through."
READ MORE: South Bendigo finally claims top-three scalp
Kangaroo Flat's win was built on a superb defensive effort, with Carly Van Den Heuvel and Ingrid Hopkins brilliant at the back end of the court.
Equally, Ashley Ryan and Chelsea Sartori controlled the midcourt battle.
An eye-catching performer in the second half was Julia Clarke, who joined Lou Dupuy in the shooting circle in the third term and partnered Abbey Ryan in the final quarter.
"She's been able to play for us the last few weeks - it's good to see that consistency back," Cowling said.
"Even in that last quarter, the moving goal circle with Abbey and Jules just gives us something to look at.
"We don't always want to rely on Lou to stand around and take those high balls all the time."
Cowling said the Roos were looking forward to another tough contest at Gisborne and was expecting the Bulldogs to be fired up after suffering a rare loss to South Bendigo on Saturday.
While unable to follow up their encouraging win over the Bloods, Magpies coach Fiona Fowler said she was reasonably pleased with the effort against Kangaroo Flat.
"I don't think the score reflects the game that was played, it was probably from the second half of the second quarter and the last quarter that it blew out," she said.
"Even though it got out to eight or nine goals at half time, it still felt like it was a winnable game.
"They just kept wearing us down and not having a goal attack today hurt a bit. (Goal shooter) Jane (O'Donohue) had to do a lot of work in there and they recognised that and they are solid defenders.
"The key with these top-three teams is, if you give them the ball, they are going to hurt you.
"I thought we got a lot of turnovers, but we just at times struggled getting the ball through the court."
The Magpies, who slipped back to fifth, play Golden Square and Eaglehawk in the next two weeks before ending their home and away season against Sandhurst.
Other round 15 results (home team named first): South Bendigo 37 defeated Gisborne 36; Eaglehawk 39 lost to Sandhurst 69; Golden Square 54 lost to Kyneton; Maryborough 52 defeated Strathfieldsaye 29.
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