After two consecutive byes, the Goulburn Dirty Reds women are rearing to get back on the field for this weekend's clash against the Queanbeyan Whites.
Saturday's match is the first in a run of four straight games to the end of the season for Goulburn, during which time co-coach Ash Mewburn hopes the Dirty Reds can string some wins together and climb up the ladder.
After a strong start in 2021, with three wins from their first four games, Goulburn's form dropped off and they have since lost two matches and drawn one.
Though the Whites are last on the ladder, they won the last match between the two sides, in round eight, by eight points. Due to the size and physicality Queanbeyan's squad, Mewburn knows Goulburn will need to bring its best form this weekend.
"Queanbeyan will be a good gauge for us to see how we go some of the tougher teams," she said.
"They're quite a physical team, and we always go head-to-head all the way to the finish line with them. I think it'll come back down to discipline at the end of the day."
Discipline has been both a strength and a weakness of the Dirty Reds' play this season.
Through rigorous training, the team's defence has steadily improved to the point where it has became arguably Goulburn's biggest asset.
That has been, however, counteracted somewhat by the team's struggle to close out good passages of play with scores.
"We've been working on defence quite a lot, so I'm not surprised how well we defend our line," Mewburn said.
"Our problem is being able to put points on the board. We can get the ball all the way down to the tryline, but finishing off our hard work is something that we haven't rewarded ourselves with.
"That's going to come back to more discipline and being patient."
Despite the lack of match practice over the last fortnight, two consecutive byes was welcomed by the Dirty Reds, who are currently battling a spate of injuries.
"To be honest, the past two weeks couldn't have come at a better time," Mewburn said.
"We've had a couple of big injuries, so it's good to have a fortnight's rest and prepare ourselves for the run to the finals. We were actually quite pleased to get the byes, but now we're very excited to play this weekend."
One of the other positives Mewburn noted about this weekend was the return of Pearl Rakete from Brumbies duties.
Rakete spent most of June in Coffs Harbour, where the majority of the Super W was played. The tournament finished late last month, but due to the byes, she has not since had the opportunity to don the Dirty Reds colours.
"Pearl couldn't have come back at a better time," Mewburn said.
"She's going to be an amazing presence on the field, and she'll help to lift us when we're not going well."
The Goulburn women will take on Queanbeyan this Saturday, July 24, from noon at Poidevin Oval.
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