By David Nagel
The destination of this year’s A Grade netball premiership is still very much unknown after a classic contest between Tooradin-Dalmore and Inverloch-Kongwak at Tooradin on Saturday.
The Seagulls prevailed 47-43 in a high-quality match between the two best performed teams of 2022 – where scores were locked as late as mid-way through the third quarter.
But Tooradin’s fast start, and ability to surge late after a spirited Inverloch revival, saw the home side end the day as the only undefeated team in the competition.
Tooradin led 14-10 at quarter time, with Alex Maher (GS) having the hot-hand in goals scoring 12 of her team’s score.
Kayla Bratic (GA) set Maher up with some sharp passing in the circle, while Chloe Crouch (C), Alex Duff (WA) and Stacey Sawyer (WD) had plenty of ball through the midcourt.
Jess Maher (GK) and Ebony Dolan (GD) were giving the Inverloch goalers very little room to breath in an impressive start from the benchmark team of the last few years.
But Inverloch sits near the top of the table for a reason, with coach Jarrad Walker making some slight tweaks to his line up for the second term…and his team responded in style.
Kelly Boyd (GS) took over the main goal-scoring duties from Ella Sadler, who moved to goal attack, with Tayla Robb taking a seat on the sidelines.
The moves paid off handsomely for the Sea Eagles, who won the quarter 14-11 to narrow the margin to a 24-25 deficit at half time.
The third quarter was an absolute cracker, with Tooradin extending its lead early, before Inverloch squared the scores…before the Seagulls finally took the initiative with a brilliant finish to the third term.
Boyd and Dolan were having a great battle at Inverloch’s end of the court, while the skill and composure of Alex Maher (GS) and Duff (GA) – who was moved back to her familiar role in goals – played a critical part in the Seagulls’ match-winning surge.
The Seagulls maintained their margin throughout the last quarter to claim their biggest win for the season.
Dolan, Jess Maher and Sara Howie were terrific in defence for the Seagulls, while the visiting Sea Eagles will learn a lot from this week’s result.
They matched-motors with the home side for the majority of the match, with one or two concentration lapses proving costly.
But players like Renee Pilkington (C), Lanni Pryor (WA) and Rahni Mann (WD) will walk away from their midcourt battle knowing the task is very achievable, while the efforts of Tayla Smith (GK), Millie Sadler (GD) and Boyd will hold the Sea Eagles in good stead moving forward.
One thing is for certain…that these two will be around come the very pointy end of the season.
Garfield is celebrating its first win of the season after the Stars proved too strong in a 47-34 victory over Kooweerup at Denhams Road.
The Stars have put in some really competitive performances against some strong teams this season and thoroughly deserve their first taste of success.
The Stars will look to go back-to-back when they host Cora Lynn this week, while the winless Demons hit the road to Korumburra.
Bunyip has bounced back from its six-goal loss to Inverloch last week with a commanding 60-27 win over Korumburra-Bena.
The Bulldogs learned a lot from that tough clash just seven days earlier and wasted no time in asserting their ascendency.
The Doggies host ladder-leaders Tooradin this week and will head in confident after handing the perennial finalists their fifth defeat in seven starts.
The Giants are missing some superstar players this season but are still being competitive despite the change in look.
Dalyston is building nicely into its season and the Magpies continued their recent run of form with a hard-fought 58-52 victory over Phillip Island.
The Magpies had two hiccups against Inverloch (33-43) and Tooradin (35-40), but don’t face those two sides again so could be at the beginning of a prolonged winning streak.
That’s two on the bounce now for the Magpies, who handed Nar Nar Goon its first loss the season last week.
Phillip Island has a great start to the season but upcoming games against Nar Nar Goon, Tooradin and Bunyip will give us a clearer indication of where they stand.
And finally, Nar Nar Goon has rebounded from last week’s loss to Dalyston with a convincing 66-47 victory over Warragul Industrials at Western Park.
The Goon, just like Phillip Island, has started the season in style but face a tough run of games on the horizon. The Goon faces Phillip Island, Korumburra-Bena, Tooradin and Inverloch as they round out their first 11 games of the season.
The Dusties continue to be just that little bit off the pace, with their only victory coming against Garfield in round one.
They face a mixed bag over the next four weeks, with a visit to Dalyston followed by games against Kooweerup, Inverloch and Cora Lynn.
Cora Lynn heads to Garfield this week after freshening up with the bye.
WGFNC RESULTS – ROUND 7
A GRADE: Bunyip 60 v Korumburra-Bena 27, Kilcunda-Bass 0 v Cora Lynn 20, Kooweerup 34 v Garfield 47, Phillip Island 52 v Dalyston 58, Tooradin-Dalmore 47 v Inverloch-Kongwak 43, Warragul Industrials 47 v Nar Nar Goon 66.
B GRADE: Bunyip 48 v Korumburra-Bena 27, Kilcunda-Bass 40 v Cora Lynn 41, Kooweerup 35 v Garfield 35, Phillip Island 61 v Dalyston 55, Tooradin-Dalmore 54 v Inverloch-Kongwak 40, Warragul Industrials 23 v Nar Nar Goon 71.
C GRADE: Bunyip 39 v Korumburra-Bena 12, Kilcunda-Bass 16 v Cora Lynn 41, Kooweerup 21 v Garfield 45, Phillip Island 29 v Dalyston 45, Tooradin-Dalmore 16 v Inverloch-Kongwak 28, Warragul Industrials 9 v Nar Nar Goon 53.
D GRADE: Bunyip 0 v Korumburra-Bena 0, Kilcunda-Bass 30 v Cora Lynn 24, Kooweerup 21 v Garfield 32, Phillip Island 14 v Dalyston 56, Tooradin-Dalmore 17 v Inverloch-Kongwak 53, Warragul Industrials 0 v Nar Nar Goon 0.
17 UNDER: Bunyip 35 v Korumburra-Bena 36, Kilcunda-Bass 19 v Cora Lynn 44, Kooweerup 47 v Garfield 11, Phillip Island 46 v Dalyston 50, Tooradin-Dalmore 32 v Inverloch-Kongwak 35, Warragul Industrials 15 v Nar Nar Goon 58.
15 UNDER: Bunyip 22 v Korumburra-Bena 33, Kilcunda-Bass 30 v Cora Lynn 17, Kooweerup 0 v Garfield 0, Phillip Island 49 v Dalyston 22, Tooradin-Dalmore 21 v Inverloch-Kongwak 38, Warragul Industrials 24 v Nar Nar Goon 47.
13 UNDER: Bunyip 3 v Korumburra-Bena 29, Kilcunda-Bass 1 v Cora Lynn 33, Kooweerup 28 v Garfield 15, Phillip Island 50 v Dalyston 3, Tooradin-Dalmore 16 v Inverloch-Kongwak 7, Warragul Industrials 13 v Nar Nar Goon 29.
11 UNDER: Bunyip 20 v Korumburra-Bena 0, Kilcunda-Bass 13 v Cora Lynn 12, Kooweerup 16 v Garfield 3, Phillip Island 13 v Dalyston 12, Tooradin-Dalmore 7 v Inverloch-Kongwak 10, Warragul Industrials 0 v Nar Nar Goon 0.