Gisborne survived a scare against South Bendigo, but was able to settle and come away with the win in the Bendigo Netball League.
It was a good test for the ladder-leading Bulldogs against a South Bendigo side looking to play finals.
After both teams had periods of dominance, it was the Bulldogs that came away with the 52-48 win.
Bulldogs captain Maddy Stewart said they always knew it was going to be a test.
“It was a hard-fought win,” she said.
“We knew it was going to be tough, they are improving as the season goes along.
“It was a hard slog. We pushed it out at one stage and they got in front later on.
“It was good to put the foot down and steady and take control.”
Needing to change things up, the Bulldogs made a couple of key moves.
The big one was moving Ella Bertacchini from goal attack to defence.
Tazma Morris, who was up from the A-reserve side, came into goal attack.
“It made a lot more drive in the goal circle,” Stewart said.
“And it flowed onto the attacking end.
“We were missing Holly Doricic, so Tazma came on and gave movement in goal attack.
“Ella gave us something different in defence with her height.”
Stewart said the move of Bertacchini, who is a shooter at Victorian Netball League level, into defence was something they hadn’t tried until the past few weeks.
She said it was something they had up their sleeves for finals if they needed it.
As well as missing Doricic, defenders Mel Harris and Keara Fitzgerald missed the game, giving the Bulldogs a younger side than usual.
Stewart said it was really pleasing to see the composure of the younger players who were able to stand up under pressure.
Stewart said those absences and others throughout the season, had given the team some more flexibility.
“We have shown the depth we’ve got in other grades,” she said.
“There’s the opportunity to be more flexible and change up positions.
“We’re showing we have those different options.”
The Bulldogs, who have lost just one game this season, remain in top spot, a game clear of Sandhurst.
Stewart said they had to continue to work hard to stay there.
Gisborne this week face Maryborough.
“We’re working on that consistency and playing four-quarter games,” she said.
“We’ve got a couple of big games coming up.
“We have to win those games to secure top spot.”
Kyneton remains in finals contention despite a loss to Strathfieldsaye on Saturday.
The Tigers went down 56-37.
The sixth-placed Tigers this week face fifth-placed South Bendigo in a must win match.