MARONG has scored its first opening round in at least five seasons with a spirited come from behind win against a reinvigorated Inglewood on Saturday.
The Panthers trailed at each break, including by six goals at half time and three at the final change, before unleashing a powerful 24-10 final quarter to prevail by 11 goals.
Tahnee McKibbin proved instrumental in the win with 19 final quarter goals, to give her 22 in just a half of netball.
McKibbin was part of a revolving cast in goals, with Mikayla Millar and Kate Healey also taking turns at goal shooter and goal attack throughout the much-anticipated contest at Inglewood.
The trio was brilliantly fed by midcourt recruit Bianca Jones, who was awarded the best on court medal, and Elise Chambers.
At the other end of the court the Panthers were positively settled, with goal defence Kim Dalton continuing the form that saw her finish top four in the league's best and fairest award in 2018, and Teagan Bickerdike also impressing.
Marong was pushed to the brink by the Blues, who were making their return to A-grade following a 12-month hiatus, and had all the early momentum.
Panthers coach Linda Bickerdike said her side had shown much courage and persistence in wearing down the Blues and hoped the win would be a good early platform on which to build a much-improved season.
"It was an awesome effort ... coming into the first round you don't really know what you are going to be up against," she said.
"You have to assume everyone has done some recruiting and is going to improve, and Inglewood is a perfect example. It looks to me that they have dome some awesome recruiting.
"It was a tough game. The girls definitely worked hard to get back into the game and are a group that always keep going - they never say die.
"They were like that last year as well. Even though they didn't win that many games, the effort and hard work were always there and you can't ask for more than that.
"I think Inglewood would be pretty proud too about how they went."
Bickerdike, who is in her second season at Marong and is one of only three non-new coaches in the LVFNL this season, believed the experience of Jones and Healey would be major pluses for her young squad going forward.
"I think the biggest plus for us is we still have some improving to do," she said.
The Panthers will get another gauge of their development next weekend against a rebounding Calivil United, which lost its round one-encounter 52-60 against Newbridge.
In other LVFNL round oe results, Mitiamo defeated Maiden Gully YCW 48-41 at Marist College, and reigning premiers Bridgewater prevailed against Pyramid Hill 47-27.
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