Na­timuk a well-oiled ma­chine

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Netball Countdown - BY SARAH SCULLY

Reign­ing premier Na­timuk United is in a strong po­si­tion to chal­lenge for a third Hor­sham Dis­trict A Grade premier­ship in four years af­ter re­tain­ing the ma­jor­ity of its se­nior list.

Play­ing coach Ch­eryl Sud­holz is back at the helm and is ex­cited about what sea­son 2018 might bring.

Sud­holz said pre-sea­son was ex­cel­lent, with the club at­tract­ing good num­bers to train­ing.

“We have six to eight new faces and some ladies com­ing back from ba­bies and so on,” she said.

“It’s nice to see the new and re­turn­ing faces and they will fil­ter down through the grades.

“We haven’t fin­ished the grad­ing process yet be­cause it’s been hard slot­ting ev­ery­one into the right teams.

“We’re not far off on that side of things. We’ll have no trou­ble fill­ing all grades, we have plenty of num­bers.”

Sud­holz said while teams were still be­ing fi­nalised, A Grade would look almost the same as last year.

Shan­non Couch will re­turn to the ring, with her height a ma­jor ad­van­tage for the Ewes.

She com­bined well with Amy Pil­grim last sea­son in her first year up from B Grade, while Sud­holz, Danielle Fleay, Emily Hate­ley and Michelle Trigg shared du­ties in the mid­court.

Sud­holz said de­fence would look dif­fer­ent this sea­son, with Cait­lyn Bat­son tak­ing a year off to travel and work over­seas.

Pow­er­ful de­fender Jo Tay­lor will re­turn to A Grade to rekin­dle her part­ner­ship with Casey Vanstan.

Tay­lor played B Grade last year af­ter re­turn­ing from a knee in­jury and won be­ston-court hon­ours in her team’s premier­ship tri­umph over Har­row-bal­moral.

“We’ve lost Cait­lyn but we’ll have Jo back in the mix, so our team will be very much the same,” Sud­holz said.

“Jo’s knee is as strong as it’s go­ing to get. She doesn’t have any nig­gling pain, it’s more of an aware­ness, so we’ll see how she goes. We’re look­ing forward to hav­ing her back in A Grade.”

Fa­mil­iar­ity from years of play­ing to­gether sees the Ewes per­form like a well-oiled ma­chine.

Their abil­ity to re­main cool, calm and col­lected under pressure has al­lowed them to re­main one of the com­pe­ti­tion’s bench­mark teams for sev­eral years.

So, will Na­timuk United be the last one stand­ing come grand fi­nal day?

“It would be nice to win an­other one, but we can’t be greedy,” Suholz joked.

“Any­thing can hap­pen be­tween now and Septem­ber. It is a long sea­son.”

Sud­holz said she hoped all grades would go a step fur­ther this sea­son fol­low­ing a rel­a­tively suc­cess­ful 2017.

“Last year was nearly the first year we had all se­nior grades in at least the first week of fi­nals,” she said.

“We hope to con­tinue along the same lines this year, with each grade aim­ing to go one step bet­ter again.

“Our C and C Res girls are al­ways com­pet­i­tive.

“Last year’s fi­nals ex­pe­ri­ence was great for them and they should be pretty strong again this year.

“It would be great to see them make a grand fi­nal.”

The Ewes are fo­cus­ing on fit­ness and getting as much court time as pos­si­ble in the lead-up to round-one matches against No­rad­juha-quan­tong.

“I wish ev­ery­one a great sea­son and I look forward to see­ing ev­ery­one on the court,” Sud­holz said.

Emily Hate­ley

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