A TOUGH three-week stretch of games is fast turning into a prolific and empowering three weeks for Maiden Gully YCW in LVFNL A-grade netball.
The Eagles passed another stern test of character and skill by defeating Mitiamo by 13 goals at Marist College on Saturday.
A 67-54 triumph over last season's minor premiers gave the Eagles back-to-back wins over fellow premiership rivals following the previous week's 12-goal victory over Calivil United.
The win consolidated their spot in second position on the ladder and sent a warning to their rivals that the Eagles will be a force to be reckoned with as the season edges closer to finals.
Maiden Gully YCW came from one-goal down at quarter time to have the game on their terms following an impressive 18-10 second quarter.
The Eagles were able to stretch their seven-goal lead to 15 in a slick third term, before the Superoos had the better of the last quarter by two goals in a positive for first-year playing coach Laura Hicks.
While the Eagles have enjoyed bigger wins this season, none have sent as big a statement to its rivals as their victory over the 2019 premiers.
"We needed to get a good start and we got it," Eagles coach Christie Griffiths said.
"We were able to keep that lead, even though we got tired in the end, but it was a great team effort.
"Last week (against Calivil United) we played really well, but I was just as happy today.
"I feel we've hit some really good form. Obviously getting a few weeks of consistent netball helps.
"Everyone adjusted well and I feel we are just gelling as a team."
While there were no weak links for the Eagles, the switch of their star Leisa Barry into the centre after quarter time proved a telling move.
In attack, Tia Webb (51 goals) and Meg Patterson (16) showed why they are one of the league's premier goaling combinations with another high-calibre performance.
A continuing focus for the Eagles, according to Griffiths, will be their consistency over four quarters and patience with the ball.
I feel we've hit some really good form. Obviously getting a few weeks of consistent netball helps.- Eagles coach Christie Griffiths
With player unavailability taking a toll, next Saturday's bye could not come at a better time for Mitiamo, which had to utilise several players across two grades against Maiden Gully YCW due to illness and injury.
Not even their star goaler and coach was spared, with Hicks, who was filling in as B-grade coach, having to take to the court in the second half of the earlier game.
Hicks said her side had felt flat from the first whistle.
"It never felt like we were going full pace. Even though we were up by one goal at quarter time, it still felt like we were flat," she said.
"Being so flat, when we lost momentum, it wasn't just one or two goals, it was four, five and six goals we conceded in a row, so that's definitely something we have to work on.
"It's probably not a bad thing that we have a week off next week. We'll recuperate and chase some numbers. It's a depleted side at the moment.
"After a week off and a freshen up, we can focus on the Bridgewater game."
Positives for the Superoos included winning two of the four quarters contested and another gallant effort in the midcourt from Amelia Ludeman.
Having played all but Bridgewater among the competition's current top five teams, Hicks said she found it increasingly hard to compare the strength of each, in particular, having missed the Cailivil United game.
But she was confident enough to declare Maiden Gully YCW as 'right up there' among the best and a definite threat to all-comers.
"They are a very good side - obviously they have the height and that was one thing that really did us in today," she said.
"We didn't have much height in defence and they have two really tall goalers - that's really worked in their favour. And they shot really accurately.
"I'd put them right up there with any team right now."
Meanwhile, Bridgewater coach Aimie Brown praised her players' resilience after they came from behind to defeat home side Newbridge by two goals.
The Mean Machine trailed for the bulk of the contest, but a run of four late unanswered goals sealed a dramatic 44-42 victory.
An ankle injury to goal defence Meg Jennings with about 90 seconds to play rocked the Maroons, with Bridgewater seizing the momentum to score their third win of the season from six games.
Brown was both rapt and relieved to have won a close one after the Mean Machine had finished on the wrong side of a two-goal margin against Calivil United in round five.
"We had a lot of girls playing two games, being hit by a few injuries and with all the sickness that is going around, so we were very low for numbers," she said.
"I was very proud of them in that last little bit - they got the job done in the end.
"Credit to Newbridge, they played really well. We just couldn't get it together until that last little bit when we played some really good netball."
The Mean Machine were without top recruit Carly Ladson, due to CVFLW inter-league commitments on Sunday.
Highlights of the win were the A-grade debuts of Piper Normoyle and Danielle Flood and a shining second half performance from young gun Daisy Stringer, which helped turn the game Bridgewater's way and earned the praise of both coaches.
Newbridge coach Selina Holland said the combination of Jennings' injury and a tough loss had left her players shattered.
"It was a pretty ordinary injury - we're hoping for the best, but it didn't look great," she said.
"I thought we had them rattled for most of the game, it was just that last minute and a half.
"I'm so devastated for the girls, they worked so hard. But it's definitely given us a bit of confidence knowing we can match it with a good side."
Jennings and fellow defender Abbey Rowley were best for the Maroons, who will back up against Pyramid Hill next week.
In other games, Marong continued its unbeaten run with a 73-36 win over Bears Lagoon-Serpentine.
The Panthers lead the league ladder with five wins and a draw, with a showdown next Saturday against Calivil United on the horizon.
The Demons rebounded from their first loss of the season against Maiden Gully YCW to defeat Pyramid Hill by 24 goals.
Their 48-24 win on the Bulldogs' home court was led by 2022 season Jasmine Condliffe and goaler Tia Steen, who continued their excellent starts to the season.
A new but familiar inclusion, former Calivil junior Mia Peters, who is playing VNL with Melbourne University Lightning this season, also shot well in goals.
They are a very good side - obviously they have the height and that was one thing that really did us in today.- Superoos coach Laura Hicks
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