ACCURATE goalers and pacy midcourters are the strengths Heathcote District league open netball coaches Anna-Grace Close and Jan Mannes hope can propel their side to victory against Sunraysia on Saturday.
The HDFNL will be chasing back-to-back inter-league victories at Sarah Oval in Mildura, after returning to the winner's list last year against Geelong District, and has chosen what joint coach Close describes as a 'nice blend of youth and experience' in a bid to get the job done.
Close, who was voted best on court against Geelong District, is one of three players backing-up from last season, alongside her White Hills premiership team-mates Danni Wee-Hee and Rhian Moresi, while Huntly's Ash Jenkyn has also previously represented the league.
The star Demons defender was confident her and Mannes had the right mix at their disposal to seriously challenge the home side, which defeated Central Murray last season 52-48 at Swan Hill.
"We have really strong midcourters, who are smart and fast netballers, and we have a tall target up forward in Ash Gilmore," Close said.
"On top of that we have two very accurate goalers in Ash Jenkyn and Rhian Moresi - I am really looking forward to seeing them all in action.
"Ash is a tough match-up for anyone," said Close, who speaks from experience.
"I have to match up on her at training and it's tough, so I imagine its going to be a real challenge for Sunraysia to match her as well."
The goaling partnership of Gilmore and Moresi has been in devastating form early in the HDFNL season, averaging 76 goals per game through four matches.
In defence, Close, Leitchville-Gunbower's Emmalea Wishart and White Hills' Bronte Deary will have an equally testing assignment against Wentworth's Amanda Edwards, who is the Sunraysia league's dominant goal shooter and a former Mildura Lady Heat state league basketballer, and tall goal attack Demelza Toms, who was a key in South Mildura's A-grade premiership win last season.
A quick and skilful HDFNL midcourt wil be powered by White Hills premiership skipper Danni Wee-Hee, Elmore's Isabel Nichol-Smith and Leitchville-Gunbower's Bronte Gundry.
On what little that can be gleaned on the Sunraysia squad, Close believed flexibility throughout the line-up appeared to be their major asset.
"To be honest we are not really worrying about them at all, we will just go in with our game, which I have full confidence in," she said.
"Whatever they bring will need to match us."
Meanwhile, fresh from its win at this month's Golden City Netball Association tournament, the HDFNL's 17-and-under team coached by Ellena Findlay and Jayde Isley will not be playing inter-league, but instead head to Echuca for a tournament on Sunday.
It will be the first of two tournaments in Echuca over the next few weeks, with the squad preparing for the Association Championships - Northern on June 2.
The HDFNL open netball squad is Anna-Grace Close (White Hills), Bronte Deary (White Hills), Ash Gilmore (White Hills), Bronte Gundry (Leitchville-Gunbower), Ash Jenkyn (Huntly), Rhian Moresi (White Hills), Isabel Nichol-Smith (Elmore), Danni Wee-Hee (White Hills), Emmalea Wishart (Leitchville-Gunbower).
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