Strathfieldsaye kickstarted its 2022 BFNL premiership campaign with a hard-fought 13-point win over an improved Eaglehawk at Tannery Lane.
The Storm were behind on the scoreboard by five points at half-time, but regained control in the third quarter and then held off the Hawks to win 12.13 (85) to 10.12 (72).
"Eaglehawk was good. Their top-end (talent) is very, very good,'' Storm coach Darryl Wilson said.
"Their midfield is very strong and I'm sure they're going to cause plenty of headaches throughout the year.
"To get away with the win was really good. We had a few players out, so to grind away in a game where we were never a mile ahead was really pleasing.
"It was a real battle. I think not playing footy for a long time made it tough for both teams.
Read more: Catch up on all the weekend's footy news
"Practice games are great, but they don't replicate what happens in the real games.
"We had about 12 players play in this game that didn't play in the practice game against Kyabram."
The Storm won the battle despite kicking a wayward 7.11 in the second half.
Eaglehawk's midfield -led by ruckman Clayton Holmes, Billy Evans and Noah Wheeler - controlled the play in the first-half before the Storm got their hands on more of the ball in the second half.
That gave star forward Lachlan Sharp more bites of the cherry and the left-footer finished the game with four goals, but it could have been six or seven had he not hit the post multiple times.
With Cooper Jones on VFL duties, James Schischka was the Storm's prime marking option across half-forward and the former Pioneers' captain was a key contributor to the victory.
Wilson lauded Cal McCarty's grunt work around the ball, while Riley Clarke, Baxter Slater and Hunter Lawrence made strong starts to the season.
Read more: Dragons make hot start to netball season
Eaglehawk's best player was clearly the tireless Holmes in the ruck. Evans' first half was outstanding through the midfield, while Kobe Lloyd made a welcome-return to the Hawks' senior side where his ball use off half-back was a feature.
"We felt like we controlled the game in the first half and all the numbers suggested that,'' Eaglehawk coach Travis Matheson said.
"We didn't take our opportunities in the second half and we made some simple errors that you can't afford to make when you're playing Strath at Strath.
"We went out with the full belief that we could win, and it was disappointing that we didn't win after being in a good position, but considering we had so many fresh faces and we had an interrupted preparation... we walk away as happy as you can be after having a loss."
The Hawks' first home game of the season is on Good Friday against South Bendigo.
The Storm head to the QEO on Good Friday to tackle Sandhurst.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.