Sandhurst shaping as team to catch in BFNL netball

SENSATIONAL START: Meg Williams is enjoying a standout season for undefeated Sandhurst, which is one game clear on the BFNL A-grade ladder ahead of a cluster of three teams.

SENSATIONAL START: Meg Williams is enjoying a standout season for undefeated Sandhurst, which is one game clear on the BFNL A-grade ladder ahead of a cluster of three teams.

AS BFNL netballers prepare to head back to the court for the first time since last weekend's inter-league round, it's Sandhurst that has emerged as the early pacesetter.

The free-scoring Dragons (4-0) head the premiership ladder as the only undefeated team after four rounds.

A pack of three teams lead the chase on 3-1, including Gisborne, Maryborough and Golden Square, with Eaglehawk, reigning premiers Kangaroo Flat and South Bendigo a further win back on 2-2.

The Dragons, under new coaches Tamara Gilchrist and Heather Oliver, have been getting the job done in all sections of the court.

Their 277 goals scored is a league-best, 50 ahead of nearest rival Maryborough.

The Dragons are also conceding the fewest goals (97), at an average of 24.25 per game, with Golden Square next best, giving up 29.75 goals per game.

But coach Gilchrist insists the Dragons will not be getting ahead of themselves, in particular with a tough stretch of four games to come, starting this Saturday against fifth-placed Eaglehawk.

"We are where were hoping to be at the start of the year, but we haven't come up against three of the other big contenders yet," she said.

"The first of those Eaglehawk, so that will be a good test to see how we go.

"The girls are training hard and we're real happy with things."

A clash against South Bendigo, which has stamped itself as one of the league's improvers, follows the game against the Hawks.

A QEO showdown against Maryborough, followed by away games at Kangaroo Flat and Gisborne complete their opening round.

The obvious highlight so far for the Dragons has been a 53-27 victory over Golden Square in round three.

While the Bulldogs were without star goal shooter Gabe Richards, Gilchrist said the eventual 26-goal margin had come as a surprise.

"Gabe is obviously a huge out, but it wasn't just our attacking and defence, our midcourt was fantastic against Square," she said.

"That was so good for us as a club that we weren't just relying on whether Gabe was or wan't there ... we had a game plan.

'Our midcourt was outstanding. Meg Williams is having a great season, Brook Bolton is working hard and everyone is playing their role."

The Dragons are also getting great contributions from co-coach Oliver, Kelsey Sartori and BFNL goal keeper Carly Van den Heuvel.

Kelsey Sartori

Kelsey Sartori

A look at the ladders across the grades highlights the Dragons' striong depth.

Their A-reserve side, also coached by Gilchrist, heads the ladder with a 3-1 record, as does the Dragons' 17-and-under team.

The Dragons' B-grade team is fourth with three wins and a loss, while B-reserve is second behind South Bendigo at 3-1.

In other games this Saturday, Golden Square hosts Gisborne, South Bendigo is chasing three-in-a-row against Kyneton, Strathfieldsaye meets Maryborough, and Kangaroo Flat plays Castlemaine.