BRISBANE midfielder Cathy Svarc expects a tougher challenge from Gold Coast than the Lions have faced in the past three years, but says her side has the "fire in the belly" to retain the QClash trophy on Saturday.
All eyes will be on the midfield battle when the Queensland rivals run out on to Heritage Bank Stadium in a contest that promises to be the tightest since they battled out a draw in 2020.
Since then, rampant Brisbane has won each contest by a minimum of 10 goals, but Svarc expects the vastly-improved Suns to be a different proposition this time around.
"They're having a much more consistent season," Svarc told womens.afl.
"You can certainly see they're playing with more confidence.
"They've had that bit of talent over the last few years, but they've never been able to get that run on. They're looking strong, it's going to be a good game."
Brisbane has an identical 4-2 win-loss record to their rivals, only ahead on the ladder by percentage, and Svarc says the sting of last Saturday night's five-point loss to Collingwood was there.
She said although the Suns, themselves fresh off a last-gasp triumph over Richmond, were on the rise, previous results could play a part.
"Obviously our previous record has been really good over them and I think that's still a good little thing to have in the back of their minds too," she said.
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"It's probably sitting there that we've been quite strong over them.
"I'm sure they want to change that, but … we don't want them to win. We've got a lot of fire in our belly."
Svarc is expected to run-with imposing Gold Coast youngster Charlie Rowbottom in a midfield match-up that will likely pit League best and fairest Ally Anderson against Lucy Single.
"She's obviously super strong and got a good sized body," Svarc said of Rowbottom.
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"It doesn't intimidate me in that regard, but you certainly can't under-estimate her either, you’ve still got to show that respect.
"I'm excited for the contest in there.
"They've got a bit more consistent and built a bit of their own brand together, so I think it'll be a pretty good battle through the middle."