Eaglehawk, Sandhurst, Gisborne stand tall in BFNL season openers

GREAT START: Ash Ryan was in great touch for Eaglehawk during Saturday's opening round win against Strathfieldsaye Picture: DARREN HOWE
GREAT START: Ash Ryan was in great touch for Eaglehawk during Saturday's opening round win against Strathfieldsaye Picture: DARREN HOWE

SANDHURST has wasted no time in reasserting its dominance on the BFNL competition following a dynamic round one victory against Golden Square.

In a rematch of last season’s grand finalists at the Queen Elizabeth Oval on Saturday night, the Dragons defeated the Bulldogs 67-33.

Sandhurst stamped its authority early and led 18-9 at the first break.

The margin was 16-goals at half time and 25 goals at three quarter time, before blowing out to 34 by game’s end.

Bec Smith

Bec Smith

Sandhurst has now won 12 straight games, stretching back to round 10 of last season and including its 48-10 premiership win last September.

Next up is a clash at the Queen Elizabeth Oval against South Bendigo, which was one of two teams to open the season with a bye along with Maryborough, with Kyneton and Castlemaine not fielding A-grade teams.

On a trying-day for netballers with most games marred by strong winds and rain, Eaglehawk coach Mali Roberts was pleased to emerge with the points against Strathfieldsaye.

The Hawks, led by strong performances from Ash Ryan and Bridget Murray, defeated the Storm 68-46 in a game the second-year coach felt her side was forced to fight every inch of the way.

“We didn't start as strong as we should have, it probably took maybe half the game to extend our lead,” she said.

“Storm weren't too far behind that first half of the game, but once we got ourselves into gear after a few firm words, we maximised our lead.”

Roberts said her side had some work to do ahead of its next game against Gisborne in round three, in particular on chasing loose balls and transitioning quicker, but also saw plenty more encouraging signs.

“I did enjoy seeing our girls step up, adapt and make a difference when we really needed to,” she said.

“I think all players did their part and contributed well to the win. They challenged themselves and fought hard.”

New Gisborne coach Kim Bailey was similarly pleased to notch a hard-fought 47-34 win against a Kangaroo Flat team she credited as possessing some great shooters and strong midcourters.

“The wind played havoc with the shooters, which took a bit of skill out of the game, but it was good way to start,” she said.

“We struggled to convert in the first quarter, which took a bit of adjusting, but once we did we were fine.

“I think we have another couple of gears to go up into, but it was a good chance for the girls to get used to me (as coach) and for me to get used to them.”

The Bulldogs made several positional changes throughout the game, including that of young Bulldog Keara Fitzgerald into centre after half time.

Bailey believed Fitzgerald would have benefited greatly from the experience.

“I was very pleased with our younger kids; Melinda Luke played goal keeper and did a fantastic job with some of her intercepts,” she said.

Gisborne continue their season next Saturday at Strathfieldsaye, while Kangaroo Flat has a bye.