There will be plenty to play for when Mooroopna and the Shepparton Swans meet this weekend in a Goulburn Valley League netball derby.
The Cats remain firmly in the mix with the league’s top sides, while the Swans have lost ground to sit three games off top spot, despite a strong 5-3 record.
When the sides have met in recent years, they have embodied the famous Sydney-West Coast AFL rivalry of the mid-2000s.
Just three goals have separated the GVL sides in their past three meetings — comparable to the Swans’ and Eagles’ stretch between 2005 and 2007 of six games separated by just 13 points.
Swans coach Jana Bruinier said her side went in expecting a close contest.
‘‘It’s always a tight contest, they’ve got a really strong defence end,’’ she said.
‘‘We have to use the attacking ball well, they’re always close games against Mooroopna and it will be much the same this weekend.
‘‘It’s a really good rivalry and always a hotly contested game.’’
If it was a Swans-Eagles clash, Bruinier would be inspirational Sydney captain Brett Kirk, continually winning the ball for her side and driving it forward.
Defensive pillar Tiarna Steel resembles Leo Barry, her ability to leap and intercept the ball crucial in shutting down the opposition’s drive.
On the Cats’ side of things, prime mover Mia Fallon would be Chris Judd with her sublime ball-use huge in creating opportunities in attack, while recent addition Martine Rodger has Quinten Lynch-type qualities as Mooroopna’s tall timber in front of goal.
The Swans’ form had been stellar until they ran into the scoring machine that is Echuca, falling 54-47 in a ripping encounter.
‘‘There’s definitely some areas of our game we need to improve; we’re not using the ball when we win it or when we get it at centre passes,’’ he said.
‘‘We need to be smarter and not give the ball back as much. We certainly need to improve in these games because we haven’t been able to beat the top six sides.’’
The Cats remain comfortably the best defensive side in the league and will need to harness their full potential to stifle a high-scoring Swans side.