REIGNING premiers Sandhurst has sent an early and ominous warning to its BFNL netball rivals with a powerful 38-goal victory over Strathfieldsaye at the QEO on Friday night.
The Dragons - led by a standout game in defence by Carly Van Den Heuvel - shrugged off a tough early challenge from the Storm to wrest control of the contest in the second quarter.
They were at their most devastating in the final quarter, adding 23 goals to the Storm's five on their way to a 72-34 victory.
It was a performance that pleased dual premiership coaches Tamara Gilchrist and Heather Oliver and sent a signal to the rest of the competition that the Dragons would be hard to counter in their quest for three-straight premierships.
Gilchrist acknowledged the importance of early wins in an increasingly tough A-grade competition, as the Dragons became the first team to reach 2-0.
"It is always good to get the early ones, you don't want to worry too much about percentages and points at the end of the year if you can help it," she said.
Thrilled to walk away with a convincing win, Gilchrist paid credit to the Storm for a spirited battle.
"It was a really good first quarter, quite tough. Strath are going to be really competitive this year, they have some great players and a lot to work with," she said.
"Half way through the second quarter our girls really took it up a notch and settled into our game and what we do well.
"From there we were able to kick away."
The Dragons can only strengthened by the inclusion of dual premiership defender Imogen Sexton, who missed the game.
Her place at goal defence was taken by Sophie Shoebridge, who performed brilliantly alongside goal keeper Van Den Heuvel, who was the pick of the Dragons players on a night where all players executed their roles with class and precision.
"We have a lot of depth in our defence - Carly Van Den Heuvel at goal keeper was outstanding," Gilchrist said.
"Anyone watching the game will tell you she was amazing, just reading the ball and intercepting constantly.
"And Erica Dalrymple-Monro at wing defence was fantastic too. Her and Brianna are really teaming up well and bringing out the best in each other.
"It was quite hard to pick a best on court and single out players when you have won by 30 (plus) goals and everyone has done all the team things."
The Dragons got great service at the attacking end of the court from Heather Oliver, who continues to excel in her two games back after missing last year's final series.
Sandhurst will look to continue its undefeated start to the season next Saturday against South Bendigo, which claimed a draw against Eaglehawk on Good Friday to get its first two points of the season.
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