A SIDE barely recognisable to the one that won the premiership last year endured a tough day for the Bendigo Thunder at the weekend.
Only two players from last year's premiership team - Carly Isaac and Hannah Perry - took to the field for the Thunder in their first of three grading games against the VU Western Spurs in the Northern Football League Women's competition.
The three grading games will determine which of the three divisions each of the 22 teams will play in this year in what's an expanded NFLW.
The Thunder were beaten 15.9 (99) to 0.0 (0) by the Spurs at Weeroona Oval.
"We had eight or nine girls play their first game of footy ever... for patches through the first three quarters we made things difficult for VU and ticked off some mini goals, so we'll take a bit out of the game," coach Luis Alvarez-Harris said.
"We hadn't had any practice games and we've had low numbers at training, so I was really proud of the effort of the girls.
"Some of the tackling was really good and we clogged VU up for periods of time, but we had no bench in the last quarter and a couple of injuries and they were able to kick away late."
We hadn't had any practice games and we've had low numbers at training, so I was really proud of the effort of the girls- Bendigo Thunder coach Luis-ALvarez-Harris
The Thunder's best players were led by Ayrlea Bailey-McClanahan, Tara Wilson and Isaac.
The Thunder's next grading game will be against Diamond Creek at Plenty Park Oval on Sunday, April 28.
The results of the grading games will carry over to the season-proper when divisions are finalised.
The Thunder has just the one team this season, with the club no longer fielding a second side in the Central Victorian Football League Women's competition.
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