Bendigo netballers pass half-way mark
PLAYERS from Bendigo and surrounds are experiencing mixed fortunes in the Victorian Netball League, as the competition passes the half-way mark.
Former Sandhurst defender Chloe Watson is having a stellar season for City West Falcons, which leads the Championship division ladder and is unbeaten after 10 rounds.
Watson, a member of Australia's 21-and-under squad, has polled 13 votes from six of her matches so far and is sitting second in the award for the league's most valuable player.
Her Falcons team has dominated the top VNL division in recent years and has rarely been troubled in 2014 - it has an average winning margin of about 20 goals and its closest game was an eight-goal victory over North East Blaze last week.
In contrast, VU Western Lightning is struggling to have an impact.
The team that has Bendigo's Melissa Ryan as an assistant coach has won four matches but is near the bottom of the Championship ladder.
Lightning's division one side, featuring Strath Storm mid-courter Brianna Dalrymple-Monro and Gisborne defender Madeline Stewart, in still in the finals race.
It has secured four wins and a draw, but remains just two points outside the top four.
Stewart, last year's BFNL Rising Star, has also been among the umpire's votes in several games.
She recently took part in the Australian 19-and-under netball championships, playing a key defensive role for Tasmania as an invitational player at the carnival in Melbourne.
In the 19-and under division, Gisborne sharp-shooter Katharine Dicker has been in good form in the ring for Ballarat Pride.
She was a member of the Victorian 19-and-under representative squad that finished runner-up at the national titles in April.
She has amassed 191 goals from her nine VNL matches to date at an accuracy of 74 per cent and is seventh overall on the shooting aggregate table.
But her team, which also includes former Castlemaine and now Kangaroo Flat centre court star Chelsea Sartori, has not yet won a game.
Roos' defender Monica Wellington has been a regular in the back court for Western Lightning, which is sixth on the 19-and-under ladder with five wins and a draw.
Just two points separating fourth from seventh, so the battle for a top-four place is still wide open as round 11 gets under way on Wednesday.
City West Falcons, featuring Sandhurst youngster Brooke Bolton, is also well in contention.
The mid-courter's team holds down fourth spot with six wins and a healthy percentage gap.
Several other BFNL players have been training with VNL club development squads.