A FRESH-LOOK North Bendigo underlined its potential for sharp improvement in 2019, with a stirring season-opening win against rival Huntly.
The Bulldogs, with six new faces in their squad, defeated the Hawks 52-43 to claim the Hayes Simpson Trophy for the first time since 2016.
North Bendigo unveiled its potent new goaling combination of former Eaglehawk star Dayna McGough and class former Gisborne goal attack Rachel McKenzie and with immediate results.
Bulldogs coach Ellena Findlay said the the pair had combined well in their first outing, but it was the promise of things to come that truly excited the second-year coach.
"All our new girls did well ... Meg (McGlone) won the medal as best on court," she said.
"Dayna and Rachel did really well, as did our midcourters. It was a real team effort, as cliched as that sounds.
"I wasn't sure how our goalers would go, having only been together a few weeks, so it was good that they started that well and I'm sure they will only get better."
With plenty of new faces of their own, including impressive goal shooter Chloe Fletcher, Findlay believed the Hawks would again be a formidable force.
"It could have gone any way really, I know they were missing one of their goalers (Ash Jenkyn)," she said.
"I was stoked to get the win. We've just missed out against them the last few times, but I feel their team is even stronger this year, so it was nice to get the win."
The Bulldogs had other impressive newcomers in Brittany Shannon, who was up from A-reserve, Olivia Thomas and Alicia Harvey."
Meanwhile, perennial powerhouse Colbinabbin showed it would be a force again with a convincing 62-33 victory over Elmore.
Lockington Bamawm United bounced back from its season opening loss to White Hills to defeat Heathcote in a nail-biter at Lockington.
The Cats won 36-34.
In another thriller, Mount Pleasant overcame Leitchville-Gunbower by one goal to win 31-30.
In next week's games, White Hills returns to action after a bye against Mount Pleasant on Good Friday, and Colbinabbin hosts Lockington Bamawm United, also on Friday.
On Saturday, Leitchville-Gunbower clashes with North Bendigo, and Huntly meets Elmore.
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