Pioneers impress in round one victory

ELUSIVE: Bendigo Pioneers' Loree Newton tries to break a tackle in Saturday's TAC Cup girls under-18 clash with the Western Jets. Picture: DARREN HOWE
ELUSIVE: Bendigo Pioneers' Loree Newton tries to break a tackle in Saturday's TAC Cup girls under-18 clash with the Western Jets. Picture: DARREN HOWE

The Rural Bank Bendigo Pioneers under-18 girls made a perfect start to the 2018 TAC Cup season on Saturday.

After only winning one game in the inaugural TAC Cup girls competition in 2017, the Pioneers showed significant improvement in their impressive 37-point win over the Western Jets at Epsom.

The Pioneers were never headed in their 8.12 (60) to 3.5 (23) victory.

"It was terrific the way the girls applied themselves,'' Pioneers under-18 girls coach Shawn McCormick said.

"We based our game on effort and every girls competed with effort and you can't ask more than that."

The Pioneers had seven players play their first game of competetivie football, but they still teamed well together against their rivals.

"You don't know how things are going to go until you get into the hurly-burly of a game situation,'' McCormick said.

"It's hard when you have girls based from as far away as Mildura and Balranald, but the girls worked together really well.

"Western Jets really charged at us in the third quarter, but the girls stood up to that test really well and we kicked the last five or six goals of the game.

"It was a good effort."

Pioneers' leaders Kodi Jacques and Megan Williamson were instrumental in the victory.

They were the best midfielders on the ground and Jacques bagged two goals when resting in the forward line.

16-year-old winger Jemma Finning was superb in her first game, while Maddy Baldwin won plenty of the ball in the middle of the ground.

Another 16-year-old Brooke Hards, from Mildura, showed plenty across half-forward, while Sophie Kerridge was a livewire inside the forward 50.

The sister of Carlton midfielder Sam Kerridge, Sophie kicked three goals in her first game of competitive football. 

“The girls were thrilled with their performance, so they should have been,’’ McCormick said.

“They’ve been training since early November, so it was good reward for the effort they’ve put in over the summer.”

The Pioneers have the long weekend off before facing the Murray Bushrangers in round two at Epsom on March 17.

Meanwhile, Bendigo Pioneers graduate Eden Zanker made her AFLW debut for Melbourne on Friday night.

Zanker had seven possessions in the Demons’ thrilling six-point win over Brisbane.

Originally from Natya near Swan Hill, Zanker was the sixth selection in last year’s AFLW draft after impressing in three games with the Pioneers in 2017.