COOLAMON have reaffirmed their flag credentials after bouncing back from a heavy loss to Mangoplah-Cookardinia United-Eastlakes to comfortably account for Wagga Tigers on Sunday.
Still stinging from a 41-point hammering by the top-of-the-table Goannas, the third-placed Hoppers brushed off the Tigers 57-31.
The Hoppers are soldiering on with a new-look defensive end, with player-coach Claudia Barton optimistic she will return for the business end of the year after suffering ankle ligament damage against Leeton-Whitton a fortnight ago.
Kaida Wouters and Claudia McKimmie are deputising in defence, and Barton said the team adjusted far better to the line-up changes against the Tigers.
"We lost to Mango by a pretty big score, and not having our normal team there it was a massive loss," Barton said.
"But working on our new combos against Tigers and wanting to be competitive, I was really happy with how we played.
"Kaida has the height and Claudia has the speed. It's something different for us to try if there are any further injuries coming into finals. It's not ideal, but they've done really well to fit in back there."
The Hoppers travel to second-placed Griffith for another tough test this weekend, and Barton said bouncing back strongly from the Goannas loss was crucial for self-belief.
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"The girls after the Mango game were pretty down on themselves, sitting in second before that week and to lose by that much," Barton said.
"I could only imagine what outsiders were saying but take nothing away from Mango they're a great team."
The loss was a costly one for the Tigers, who now sit six points behind fifth-placed Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong, who they host this weekend. But the Tigers have a game in hand.
Barton is unsure of the timeline for her return from injury.
"The ankle needs to be 100 per cent ready for when I come back. I'm working on it when I can, so hopefully (I'll be back soon)," she said.
"I hate it (not playing). It's good from a strategic point of view because I can get a different perspective from the sideline, but I definitely prefer being out on court."
In other matches on the weekend the Goannas beat the Lions 60-42, Leeton-Whitton accounted for Narrandera 59-48 and Collingullie-Glenfield Park held off Turvey Park 38-31.
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