Natimuk United early front-runner
Reigning premier Natimuk United has quickly established itself as the early Horsham District league A Grade front-runner following round-one action in sweltering conditions.
Natimuk United did not appear to skip a beat following a break from winning a flag, with all players combining well on Saturday to defeat perennial finals contender Noradjuhaquantong, 56-22.
Returning players Jo Taylor and Alysha Liston slotted into the side with ease and the Ewes’ 34-goal win over the Bombers issued a warning to the competition that they will take some beating.
Tall timber at either end in defender Casey Vanstan and shooter Shannon Couch – both among the best players in the victory – will continue to make life difficult for opponents all season.
This week it’s Rupanyup’s turn. The Panthers would have been buoyed by getting within five goals of EdenhopeApsley but perhaps disappointed they did not get over the line.
Jenni Downer was pivotal in the midcourt, with goalie Brianna Hyslop making an impact in the ring and both will need to play well to try to curb the influence of the experienced Ewes.
Noradjuha-quantong could only envy Natimuk United’s cohesion as the Bombers look to gel several new players and positional changes for 2018. Stellar defender Brooke Pay and midcourter Georgia Francis were the Bombers’ best and will be out to get a win on the board this week when they host Jeparit-rainbow.
After claiming only one win in 2017, the Storm would have been thrilled to start 2018 on a high note. Jeparitrainbow, under the leadership of new coaches Alex Schulz and Ash Morrison, was too strong for Taylors Lake, winning by 16 goals.
The Storm will face a much bigger test against the Bombers, however, while the Lakers will face an even tougher one again when they come up against Harrow-balmoral.
Sophie Heard shot 21 of Taylors Lake’s 28 goals in a best-on-court performance and will need to be on target again when her side faces last year’s other grand finalist. While the Lakers won’t expect to win they will want to be competitive and will hope to learn a few things from a more experienced, polished opponent.
Lewis leads the way
Harrow-balmoral started its season with a 12-goal win over Pimpinio. New coach Amy Lewis led the way with a 41-goal best-on-court showing in goal shooter, with Janelle Knight working hard in centre and wing defence.
Pimpinio coach Marnie Lehmann would have been happy her charges stuck with the Southern Roos, for so long a benchmark side.
Hopefully for the Tigers it is a sign of what’s to come as they look to make inroads in a notoriously tough competition.
Pimpinio will meet Swifts, who will enjoy their first taste of competition this season following a bye. Pimpinio has the height to combat the Baggies and should come out on top.
Kalkee will look to make the winners list against Edenhope-apsley after going down to Laharum. The Demons triumphed by 20 goals, led by Caitlin Story, whose 37-goal beston-court effort was rewarded with the Michele Mibus Memorial Medal.
The Kees certainly put up a fight, with midcourters Grace Braithwaite and Millie Mcrae battling hard to get on top of their opponents. The side was without recruit Jenna Bywaters, who should make a difference in goals against the Saints this week.
Spectators can expect a fast-paced match and the Saints will hope Krystal Schapel and Sarah Domaschenz shoot accurately to match the Kees’ firepower. Laharum has a bye. Round-one results: Laharum d Kalkee 63-43, Natimuk United d Noradjuha-quantong 56-22, Jeparitrainbow d Taylors Lake 44-28, Harrow-balmoral d Pimpinio 59-47, Edenhope-apsley d Rupanyup 43-38.
Round-one Wimmera Netball Association action will also continue at the weekend, with Warrack Eagles to host newcomer Southern Mallee Giants.
There will be plenty of interest in how the Giants – certainly competitive in Horsham District league – perform in the Wimmera competition.
All the best to the Giants for their new challenge.
SEASON UNDERWAY: Taylors Lake defender Tia-ana Parker looks to pass as Jeparit-rainbow shooter Maddie Marra makes a move to defend down the court. The Storm won by 16 goals. Picture: WILLAMY IMAGES