By David Nagel
Tooradin-Dalmore’s reign as one of the powerhouse teams in the West Gippsland Football Netball Competition (WGFNC) looks set to continue after the Seagulls made an impressive start to their 2022 campaign.
It’s hard to believe, but it was only six years ago when the Seagulls were struggling to win a game, seriously struggling, before an influx of players turned their fortunes around.
At the time many questioned the sustainability model of their approach, but fast-forward those six years and it’s proved a master stroke that looks set to provide further riches.
Those players the Seagulls brought in, they’re now embedded in the club’s culture and provide the spirit that the success of this proud club now thrives on.
After a first-round bye, Tooradin-Dalmore took to their home-court on Saturday for a round-two fixture against perennial powerhouse Korumburra-Bena.
The Seagulls would eventually prevail 49-33, but had to overcome a fired-up opponent who were looking to turn around their form after a disappointing performance in round one.
The Giants were defeated 47-26 by Inverloch-Kongwak in the opening round, but came out with a far more positive approach against the Seagulls in the first quarter.
The Giants midcourt of Ashlee Cuff, Emily Van Rooye and Kasey Thorson took things right up to the Seagulls, while Annelise Van Rooye and Gemma Dixon took care of business at the defensive end of the court.
And with Emma Fowles and Elisha Nicholas sharing the load beautifully up front, the Giants had managed to square things away at 10-all at the first break.
But the Seagulls ramped up their defensive pressure after quarter time, with Jess Maher being moved into defence in a lethal combination with Ebony Dolan.
The two star defenders applied great pressure, and with Zoe Coventry, Stacey Sawyer and Sara Howie doing likewise through the middle of the court, the Gulls started to take the ascendency.
Goaler Alex Duff also made her mark, combining wonderfully well with Kayla Bratic to score 11 goals to six to see the home side take a 21-16 lead into half time.
The third quarter hosted the most attractive play of the contest, with both teams combining for 27 goals for the quarter.
With Alex Maher shooting the lights out, scoring 13 goals of her own, the Gulls shot out to a 10-goal lead after a 16-11 third term.
With the game locked away, the Seagulls then enjoyed the run home to the final whistle…with Chloe Crouch and Jess Maher playing starring roles through the midcourt.
Both teams now have a week off, with the Giants facing a huge test against Dalyston on April 23 and the Seagulls hosting Warragul Industrials on Anzac Day.
The rest of the games in round two were fairly one-sided, with some teams being drastically affected by a worldwide pandemic that you may have heard of.
Coaches will make no excuses, but losing one or two of your best players is really hard to cover when there are only seven players on the court.
Probably the most impressive of the victories on Saturday came from Inverloch-Kongwak, who pushed aside Kooweerup with a dominant 63-10 triumph.
The Sea Eagles were also impressive in round one, and appear set to really challenge the top contenders, such as Dalyston and Tooradin-Dalmore this year.
The Sea Eagles have a new coach and will be hoping to make it three from three when they host a depleted Cora Lynn this Saturday.
The Cobras were missing some serious fire-power on the weekend, and it showed in a 53-27 loss to Bunyip at the Bunyip Rec Reserve.
The home side defended brilliantly before half time, never giving the Cobras an inch of space in a match-winning half of netball.
The Cobras have spirit, and stuck to their guns in the second half, but the Bulldogs were simply too good, chalking up their first win of the season.
And Nar Nar Goon and Phillip Island have continued their winning starts to the season, with wins over Garfield and the Dusties respectively.
The Goon girls had to fight hard for a round-one victory over Bunyip, but proved too strong for Garfield, winning 53-31 and providing a two-zip kick start to their season.
And Phillip Island, who also battled in round one to overcome Cora Lynn, was equally as impressive in a 68-41 win over Warragul Industrials.
The Islanders should remain undefeated until round five, when a visit from Inverloch-Kongwak will give us all a better indication of the respective strengths of both teams.
This Saturday there is only one game of A Grade netball, with Inverloch-Kongwak hosting Cora Lynn.