Echuca needs to come close to Shepparton tomorrow should it wish to be regarded as a team capable of going deep in finals.
The Murray Bombers are still trailing the six, but only marginally, as a red-hot Bears outfit continues its charge.
Having conceded the first two games of the season Tracey Brereton’s outfit has lost just one further match to Kyabram.
With second spot on the ladder belonging to Shepparton barring any major hiccup, percentage is not a motivating factor.
The last time the two sides met in round five, the Bears prevailed by one goal at Victoria Park despite having plenty of the ball.
‘‘I’m just happy to get the points (tomorrow), we didn’t play our best that day, but they played extremely well and did their job well on us,’’ Brereton said.
‘‘It’d be nice to handle the ball a little bit better than what we did against them, I think it’s just important against a side like Echuca that you value the ball.
‘‘They’re a real surprise package and it’s hard to know what sort of Echuca we’ll get on the day, when they’re playing well they can beat anyone.’’
Echuca defenders Dearnah Kent and Eve Gregor are eager to dive on any lose ball making clean passes in the Bears’ attack even more important.
But Shepparton has its own stunning defence that has only increased its depth from last year.
They will be needed in full force to take on Lisa Drysdale, with the Murray Bombers star not skipping a beat despite spending numerous years in the Murray Netball League.
Goal keeper Morgan Gibson and the versatile Laura Ryan have been complemented by the inclusion of Rochester’s Ashley Bradley this weekend.
Ryan’s ability to drop from the midcourt into goal defence, a position left vacant with star Ash Cann having a baby this season, has seen Brereton heap praise on the pacey star.
‘‘It’s a luxury having Laura Ryan that can slide between different positions, she’s almost becoming like Steph Vick,’’ she said.
A comparison to the reining Wellman medallist is the ultimate compliment as Ryan has large potential to poll heavily in this year’s best-and-fairest award after racking up 15 votes last season to finish equal eighth.