UNBEATEN in its return to A-grade netball, Castlemaine steps up for a huge challenge at Gisborne in Saturday’s third round of the Bendigo Bank Bendigo Football Netball League season.
Neither team was at full-strength in the opening two matches of the 2022 campaign.
Castlemaine made a strong start by scoring a 48-27 victory against Kyneton at Camp Reserve in round one and then followed up with a hard-fought 50-46 win on Maryborough’s court on Good Friday.
The Magpies’ mid-court and defence can expect the intensity to be much higher on Gisborne’s court at Gardiner Reserve.
After a 33-66 loss to Sandhurst at home in round one, Gisborne struck back to beat Kyneton, 65-31 under lights at Tigerland on Good Friday.
Being at home, Gisborne will start favourite to take the points in a contest where the margin is likely to be less than double figures.
Another big match will be at Queen Elizabeth Oval where South Bendigo takes on Sandhurst in the clash of the co-tenants.
All thirds of the court have been in top form for the Bloods and Dragons so far.
South Bendigo beat Golden Square by 46 goals in round one at the QEO and then won 54-33 on Eaglehawk’s court at Canterbury Park on Good Friday.
A talented Bloods’ attack will be under pressure from one of the league’s best-drilled and strongest defences.
Mid-court duels will be a highlight.
Sandhurst won 66-33 at Gisborne and then outpointed Strathfieldsaye, 72-28 on Good Friday at the QEO.
The ladder-leading Kangaroo Flat plays Eaglehawk on the Roos’ court at Dower Park.
In two matches Kangaroo Flat has sent an ominous warning to all rivals.
The Jayden Cowling-coached Roos have impressed in attack and defence.
A for-against tally of 154-47 has the Flat on a percentage of 327.
It’s another tough hit-out for the Hawks as they aim to bounce back from a 21-goal loss to South Bendigo and 35-41 result at Strathfieldsaye.
Storm will be fired up for its clash with Kyneton at Triple M Park in Tannery Lane.
The Strathfieldsaye line-up has a 1-1 record and takes on the winless Tigers who have faced Castlemaine and Gisborne.
At Golden Square it will be the team in blue and gold up against Maryborough.
Both teams will be eyeing their first wins of the season.
Injuries to key players have not helped Golden Square, while the Alicia Cassidy-coached Maryborough will be keen to limit the damage when the opposition does get a run-on through mid-court and in attack.
Standings in the Bendigo FNL A-grade netball competition:
Kangaroo Flat 327 per cent, 8 points; Sandhurst 226, 8; South Bendigo 219, 8; Castlemaine 134, 8; Gisborne 101, 4; Strathfieldsaye 64, 4; Eaglehawk 71, 0; Maryborough 63, 0; Kyneton 51, 0; Golden Square 26, 0.
Written by Nathan Dole.