BY NATHAN DOLE
IT’S second against third as Gisborne plays Castlemaine in Saturday’s 11th round of A-grade netball action in the Bendigo Bank Bendigo FNL season.
Gisborne has home-court advantage at Gardiner Reserve for a crucial match against the Magpies.
When these clubs met in round two it was the Tarryn Rymer-coached Gisborne which won 43-35 at Castlemaine’s Camp Reserve.
Both teams had emphatic victories in round 10 going into last weekend’s general bye.
Gisborne won at Strathfieldsaye’s Triple M Park by 22 goals, and Castlemaine marked a 36-goal win at home against Maryborough in the all-Magpies showdown.
The Bulldogs go into this match on an 8-2 record, but wary of the Fiona Fowler and Gary Cooke-coached Magpies who have a win-loss tally of 7-2.
Castlemaine’s match at Kyneton in the sixth round was not played, so a draw was declared.
Separated by just two points this match could be a prelude to a qualifying final, but Kangaroo Flat will be doing all it can to climb into third place.
The Kangaroos could be there by Saturday afternoon, provided they beat South Bendigo and Castlemaine is beaten.
The Jayden Cowling-coached Kangaroos make their way to Kennington’s Harry Trott Oval to take on South Bendigo.
Both teams are on the rebound from defeat.
Kangaroo Flat will be keen to bounce back from a 19-goal loss to Sandhurst, while South Bendigo’s three-goal loss at Eaglehawk has thrown the race to decide fifth place wide open.
In round two it was the Roos who beat the Bloods by 15 goals at Dower Park.
Past five games for the Jannelle Hobbs-coached South Bendigo have been a draw, win, and three defeats.
Two of those losses were up against Gisborne and Castlemaine.
South Bendigo holds fifth place, but is under intense pressure from Kyneton and Strathfieldsaye.
After playing the Roos, South Bendigo then heads to Kyneton, is back home to play Golden Square, and then on the road to meet Sandhurst at the QEO, and then play at Strathfieldsaye.
The unbeaten Sandhurst is back at Queen Elizabeth Oval to take on Kyneton.
In pursuit of a fifth consecutive A-grade premiership, Sandhurst welcomes back key defender Imogen Sexton from overseas.
A talented line-up coached by Tamara Gilchrist includes Heather Oliver at goal defence, Bec Smith in attack, and Meg Williams in the centre.
The Dianne Guest-Oakley coached Tigers played well to be within 11 goals of Sandhurst at Kyneton Showgrounds in round two.
Latest hit-out for the yellow and black ended in a 69-20 win at Golden Square’s Fur Life Oval.
Upcoming matches for Kyneton are against South Bendigo at home, then at Maryborough, home against Gisborne, and off to Castlemaine.
A win at Golden Square could put Strathfieldsaye on to the fifth rung, should South Bendigo be beaten.
The Steph Freemantle-coached Storm will start favourite to beat the blue and gold on the Wade Street court.
In round two, Storm won 78-29 against the Bulldogs at Triple M Park.
It’s a tough run ahead of Storm as it plays at Castlemaine in the 12th round, Sandhurst at the QEO, at Eaglehawk, and then home to play South Bendigo.
Been a tough run for the Benita Swatton-coached Golden Square which has put some fine quarters together, but also been on the end of some high-scoring surges.
Eaglehawk is chasing consecutive wins as it takes to Maryborough’s court at Princes Park.
The Kylie Piercy-coached Hawks played superb netball to beat South Bendigo, 44-41, in the 10th round at Canterbury Park.
The Two Blues will be determined to prove that result was no fluke, and also to take the points against a Maryborough team which won 60-43 at Eaglehawk in round two.
A Maryborough line-up coached by Jordan Macilwain is equally desperate to end a five-match losing streak.
Standings in the Bendigo FNL A-grade netball competition:
Sandhurst 203 per cent, 40 points; Gisborne 183, 32; Castlemaine 132, 30; Kangaroo Flat 162, 28; South Bendigo 110, 18; Kyneton 103, 18; Strathfieldsaye 91, 18; Eaglehawk 69, 8; Maryborough 59, 8; Golden Square 36, 0.