By David Nagel
Inverloch-Kongwak has continued its fantastic start to the 2022 netball season with a fast-starting 49-43 victory over Phillip Island at Cowes on Saturday.
The Sea Eagles are now one of three undefeated teams – alongside Tooradin-Dalmore and Nar Nar Goon – and look the big improver this season after finishing in sixth position last year.
IK bounced out of the blocks beautifully scoring 12 goals to six in the first quarter and building that lead to 26-15 at half time.
Kelly Boyd (GS) was the mainstay in goals for the Eagles in the first half, with Tayla Robb and Ella Sadler sharing the goal attack duties.
Tayla Smith (GK) and Millie Sadler (GD) were defending brilliantly for the visitors, while Hayley Pupetti (C), Lanni Pryor (WA) and Asha Boyd (WD) were doing everything right through the midcourt.
The Bulldogs fought back hard in the second half, winning the scoreboard battle 28 to 23, but IK had done enough to secure the four points.
The Sea Eagles turnaround has been significant, with new coach Jarrad Walker taking over from Sue Hawkins after being involved at the club last year.
“I moved to the town in February last year, so I was around for last season, and knew Sue (Hawkins) through some work we did together at Netball Victoria,” he said.
“And this year I got the job…which is very exciting.”
The first thing Walker set out to do was to assess last year’s performance.
“We had a close look at what we produced last year and the personnel we had in place, and we had our selections quite late after a pretty solid pre-season,” Walker said.
“I let the girls get through pre-season and let them know the skills I was looking for before selection, so they got the opportunity to put those into practice before we selected our team.
“We also had girls returning from pregnancy, and others who have taken years off, and we had a lucky pick up with a footballer-netballer couple both moving to the club.”
The inclusion of the netball side of that partnership, former VNL defender Tayla Smith, has allowed others to blossom by her side, with Renee Pilkington (GD) a player of particular note.
“Tayla has made a huge difference, and really allowed Renee loose in goal defence, with a lot of support from behind,” Walker said.
“Last year Renee probably felt like she had to do a lot more defending than she had too, but now she has the confidence to play freely knowing she has that support behind her.”
Walker said his team is enjoying its great start to the season but is certainly not taking anything for granted.
“After last season the girls are up and about and enjoying winning games, and that’s flowing through the whole club,” he said.
“Last year it was only A Grade that really didn’t perform, so it’s great to be winning but also still winning in the other grades as well.
“We understand we’re going through a particularly tough block of games at the moment, so to win two of those games already, we’re pretty happy with that.
“But we know we’ve got plenty of work to do before we meet the likes of Bunyip, Tooradin-Dalmore and Nar Nar Goon.
“The home and away games are all about positioning yourself for finals but also preparing the team for how we want to play in finals.
“We’re happy with how we’re heading, but know that a loss is going to come at some stage.
“But we’re okay with that…sometimes you’re learning more from the losses than the wins.”
Inverloch’s upcoming opponent this week, Bunyip, is also in impressive form with the Bulldogs scoring a 72-26 victory over Warragul Industrials.
The Dusties were up for the battle in the first quarter, trailing by just four at quarter time, before Bunyip scored 58 to 16 in the last three quarters of netball.
Star goaler Jasmin Mackie was on fire for the Doggies, scoring 63 goals for the match, including all of her team’s goals in the first and third quarters.
Chloe Papley, Jess Fowler, Aimee Wright and Sam Walker were also impressive for Bunyip, while Dusties defender Laurie Meaker did well to limit Mackie’s influence in the first quarter.
In other games this week, Tooradin-Dalmore was forced to work hard for its 40-35 victory over Dalyston.
The Seagulls just keep on churning out the wins, remaining undefeated, while the Magpies have now lost two on the bounce after last week’s loss to Inverloch.
Korumburra-Bena continues to bounce back hard from its slow start to the season, making it back-to-back wins with a 35-28 win over Garfield.
The Giants lost their first three, but have now almost squared the ledger.
And Nar Nar Goon scored a 43-34 victory over Cora Lynn at Spencer Street.
The Goon girls have had a great start to the season but will be fully tested this week when they hit the road to take on Dalyston.
Kooweerup had the bye.
WGFNC RESULTS – ROUND 5
A GRADE: Bunyip 72 v Warragul Industrials 26, Kilcunda-Bass 0 v Kooweerup 20, Korumburra-Bena 35 v Garfield 28, Nar Nar Goon 43 v Cora Lynn 34, Phillip Island 43 v Inverloch-Kongwak 49, Tooradin-Dalmore 40 v Dalyston 35.
B GRADE: Bunyip 82 v Warragul Industrials 22, Kilcunda-Bass 45 v Kooweerup 25, Korumburra-Bena 34 v Garfield 24, Nar Nar Goon 50 v Cora Lynn 25, Phillip Island 45 v Inverloch-Kongwak 34, Tooradin-Dalmore 64 v Dalyston 37.
C GRADE: Bunyip 66 v Warragul Industrials 8, Kilcunda-Bass 14 v Kooweerup 19, Korumburra-Bena 17 v Garfield 40, Nar Nar Goon 28 v Cora Lynn 17, Phillip Island 10 v Inverloch-Kongwak 20, Tooradin-Dalmore 19 v Dalyston 39.
D GRADE: Bunyip 20 v Warragul Industrials 0, Kilcunda-Bass 32 v Kooweerup 19, Korumburra-Bena 0 v Garfield 20, Nar Nar Goon 43 v Cora Lynn 18, Phillip Island 9 v Inverloch-Kongwak 58, Tooradin-Dalmore 31 v Dalyston 42.
17 UNDER: Bunyip 44 v Warragul Industrials 13, Kilcunda-Bass 19 v Kooweerup 26, Korumburra-Bena 60 v Garfield 3, Nar Nar Goon 17 v Cora Lynn 46, Phillip Island 46 v Inverloch-Kongwak 34, Tooradin-Dalmore 19 v Dalyston 48.
15 UNDER: Bunyip v Warragul Industrials, Kilcunda-Bass v Kooweerup, Korumburra-Bena v Garfield, Nar Nar Goon v Cora Lynn, Phillip Island 29 v Inverloch-Kongwak 11, Tooradin-Dalmore 12 v Dalyston 21.
13 UNDER: Bunyip v Warragul Industrials, Kilcunda-Bass v Kooweerup, Korumburra-Bena v Garfield, Nar Nar Goon v Cora Lynn, Phillip Island 30 v Inverloch-Kongwak 2, Tooradin-Dalmore 17 v Dalyston 3.
11 UNDER: Bunyip 0 v Warragul Industrials 0, Kilcunda-Bass v Kooweerup, Korumburra-Bena 0 v Garfield 0, Nar Nar Goon v Cora Lynn, Phillip Island 8 v Inverloch-Kongwak 12, Tooradin-Dalmore 7 v Dalyston 1.
Inverloch-Kongwak, Tooradin-Dalmore, Nar Nar Goon 20, Bunyip, Phillip Island 16, Dalyston 12, Korumburra-Bena 8, Warragul Industrials, Kooweerup 4, Garfield, Cora Lynn, Kilcunda-Bass 0.
Bunyip, Tooradin-Dalmore, Phillip Island 20, Nar Nar Goon, Inverloch-Kongwak, 16, Dalyston 12, Korumburra-Bena 8, Kilcunda-Bass, Garfield 4, Cora Lynn, Kooweerup, Warragul Industrials 0.
Bunyip, Dalyston 20, Inverloch-Kongwak, Garfield 16, Tooradin-Dalmore 14, Nar Nar Goon 12, Phillip Island 8, Cora Lynn 6, Korumburra-Bena, Kooweerup 4, Warragul Industrials, Kilcunda-Bass 0.
Inverloch-Kongwak, Bunyip, Nar Nar Goon 16, Dalyston 12, Kilcunda-Bass, Phillip Island 8, Tooradin-Dalmore, Cora Lynn 4, Garfield, Kooweerup, Korumburra-Bena, Warragul Industrials 0.