Ash Karaitiana is back for the Braves. Photo: Andrew Perryman.

THE first loss of the year didn’t come as a complete shock to the Bendigo Braves women and one of their stars has said it won’t necessarily provide them a sudden jolt back into action.

Gabe Richards said rather than being a sudden turning point, the loss has allowed the team to reflect on a string of performances that may not have been reflected in the team’s 20-0 record.

Richards said although they were winning, the Braves had been doing so unconvincingly on several occasions.

That caught up to them at home last Saturday night, when an undermanned Launceston jumped them from the start to lead 24-10 at the opening break and the Braves couldn’t grind their way to a victory in the fashion they have many times this year.

“I think certainly this year we’ve won all of our games but we haven’t been happy with the way that we’ve done it,” Richards said.

“The way that it played out we’ve seen before and we just weren’t able to claw it back and get that momentum to get over the top in the end. Against the really good sides it turns out you can’t do that all the time.”

Bendigo meets Geelong this week after the Supercats smashed Diamond Valley 92-65 last week in the elimination final.

The match will be held in Bendigo, a legacy of the club’s top-of-the-table finish and a 20-0 campaign.

“We’ve played all season to put ourselves in a position that if this happened we really can learn from it,” Richards said.

“It’s up to us now to go back, look at it and learn from it. If we don’t do that there’s no point in playing our guts out all season.”

Ash Karaitiana comes back into the Braves’ lineup after being missed in the clash against Launceston while on New Zealand national team duties.

“If people want to post Ash up, good luck. She’s strong, and she’s got good size for a guard in the post and that’s where we got exploited on the weekend so she’ll help with that,” Richards said.

“She’s bringing incredible form back as well so we’re excited to have her back.”

Bendigo and Geelong have a long-standing rivalry, including Geelong’s win in last year’s SEABL grand final.

But the Braves have plenty of finals experience on their side, something Richards said should work in their favour.

“I think, having said that, as veterans of the group that we’ll look at Saturday night and say ‘let’s not do that again’,” she said.

“There’s learning points there for all of us but that experience can certainly come into effect for us and hopefully it will the further we go through the finals.”

Bendigo hosts Geelong from 7pm on Saturday night in the SEABL second semi final.

If the Braves emerge victorious they will travel to play the winner of Nunawading and Melbourne Tigers in the preliminary final next week.

– Joel Peterson