STANHOPE proved why they are premiership contenders in a gutsy win over Lancaster on the weekend.
The Lions stormed home in the final term to claw back a 30-point deficit and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
Stanhope found something else in the final quarter to kick the last six goals of the match in extraordinary circumstances.
After being well held early, Jack Exell came alive to boot four goals as Stanhope coach Brenton Gray adjusted the set-up.
Vice-captain Lukas Hanslow was terrific for the entire game, as was Jye Patten with a four-goal haul.
Michael Coad’s move into the ruck during the last quarter helped the Lions, while Jayden Exell, Simon Collis and Alec Young put in strong performances.
Gray said it was one of the greatest wins he had been involved in at the club.
“Lancaster played better footy than us and we were lucky to find the win,” he said.
“We had too many blokes in the contest and not enough around the ball. They had more outside the contest and less going in for the ball.”
Gray said adjusting the set-up was an important part of the dominant final quarter.
‘‘It was pretty congested and we tried to open it right up, we changed a couple of running backs to the wings and locked the ball inside our 50,’’ he said.
‘‘We spoke about it before the game that they (Lancaster) are fast starters and kick plenty of goals early, so to hold them out and build from there gave us a bit of confidence.
‘‘The belief in the group to deliver the way they did was sensational.”
The Lions travel this weekend to take on Murchison-Toolamba.
THE LIONS went home with the points after an impressive 39-goal victory over Lancaster on the weekend.
Stanhope created opportunities through consistent defensive pressure, forcing turnovers from the Wombats.
Emma Hill, Sarah West and Lauren Gibbs stood out for the Lions, putting in a solid four quarters and dominating their roles.
Coach Kerrie Gray said the scoreboard didn’t reflect the pressure Lancaster applied to her team.
“The girls took control of the game with a 15 to 7 first quarter and continued to build on their lead as the game progressed,” she said.
“We had some really nice ball movement throughout the course of the game and individually players were accountable to the brand of netball we are trying to play.
“Lancaster has a group of young talented netballers who have capacity to play exciting netball and they showed that against us.”
Gray said this weekend’s match against Murchison-Toolamba will be an important test.
“Not much changes for us each week, but we will look to refine our ball skills, build on our fitness and work through our transitions down the court,” she said.
“We will need to play some of our best netball if we want the four points this week.”
THE KANGAROOS were defeated in a low-scoring battle against Merrigum on the weekend, going down by 10 points.
With a close scoreboard at the end of the first half, the Bulldogs pulled away in the second, booting four majors in the final quarter to secure the victory.
Girgarre coach Shannon Tucker said the loss only added to the wound, after a disappointing series of defeats.
“We haven’t won in a month and a half – the last two games were particularly important for us, so it’s been very disappointing and frustrating,” he said.
Girgarre’s backline put up a strong defence, however weak delivery into the forward line cost the team.
“Our decision-making definitely still let us down,” Tucker said.
Corey Wheeler, Jayden Tucker, Ash Hughes and coach Shannon Tucker were among the top players in the game.
Tucker said it had been a tough year for the team, with nine of the original 18 players out due to injuries.
However, the Kangaroos don’t plan to dwell on the recent losses, looking to the challenging games ahead.
“It doesn’t get any easier in the coming weeks. We still have Violet Town and Tallygaroopna to go,” Tucker said.
“We’ve just got to get back into it and work on honing some more structural aspects of our game.
“Realistically, we’re out of the finals now.
“Of course, we don’t want to give up – we still plan to win the upcoming games. But we also want to use this time to strengthen ourselves as a team for next year.”
THE GIRGARRE A grade side continued a string of disappointing losses last weekend, defeated 34 to 53 by Merrigum.
The Kangaroos put up a fierce fight in the first half — one point up in the first quarter and one down in the second — however a weak second half left them trailing by 19.
Girgarre coach Debbie McArdle lauded the squad’s efforts early in the game, with the team regaining much-needed drive after weeks of defeat.
“The team stepped up another level on Saturday. I was very happy with the game overall. We came out strong, which was encouraging to see,” McArdle said.
“I felt they were out to prove they can fight for a win.”
Goal shooter Ash Vick moved well in the goal circle and consistently converted opportunities, while Ruby Oliver had a solid performance in goal defence.
B graders Kerisha Milnes and Danni Jones also stepped up to help out the team.
Heading into the second round of the season, McArdle hopes the team’s development will be evident in this weekend’s game against Violet Town.
“I’m hoping we can show the opposition how much we have improved and jelled as a team since the start of the season.”
THE WOMBATS suffered a devastating defeat on the weekend, giving up a 30-point lead to Stanhope midway through the final term.
A victory looked guaranteed for Lancaster until the Lions stormed home with the last six goals of the match, beating the Wombats by 10 points.
Coach Nick Bertoli, who was playing his 250th senior game, said the unexpected loss was a tough lesson to learn.
“It was a complete turnaround and I’m not sure what happened, it was just a momentum thing and we couldn’t hold them out and get a clear run at the ball,” he said.
“We went forward when we were 30 points up and had a chance to kick another goal to make it very hard for them, but we turned it over and it all started for them.
“It helped us to realise that we’ve just got to keep fighting until the end of the game. It’s not enough to play a strong three and half quarters and think we’ve won.”
Tannar Cerrone continued a brilliant performance in midfield while Michael Hill, Andrew Pettigrove and Steve Thomson also impressed on the field.
Up against Merrigum this weekend, Lancaster hopes to bring their recent run of losses to an end.
“We’ve got to move on pretty quickly, as much as it hurts, because a win against Merrigum is huge for our finals chances.”
A STRONG performance by Lancaster was not enough to break their extended dry spell, with the Lions roaring ahead to secure a 39-goal victory.
The weekend’s game marked the fourth straight loss for the young side, who struggled to match Stanhope’s high standards.
“Despite our hard work and persistence for the whole game we just couldn’t match the smooth and more polished skills of the Stanhope side,” Lancaster coach Laura Thomson said.
“We stuck together as a team but the score line blew out more than expected.
“It was never going to be an easy game for us. We kept up with their pace but we struggled to match their accurate goaling.
“It was disappointing to have such a big loss to a neighbouring club we are usually so competitive against.”
Down a goaler and a defender, Lancaster’s new line-up featured some fresh faces from the B grade side.
Emma Roberts played a strong game in goals while Reh Collyer fed the ball smoothly to the goalers throughout the game.
Despite the loss, Thomson said the team’s performance was impressive.
“The girls kept persisting the whole game despite Stanhope increasing their margin,” she said.
“We never gave up and supported each other until the very end.”
Lancaster looks forward to playing Merrigum this weekend for the second time this season.
“The Bulldogs have had a strong season and are fighting hard for a finals berth,” Thomson said.
“I’m looking forward to a competitive game. Having only just lost to them last time, I know the girls are keen to work hard and try to make it a win this time.”
GOALS were hard to come by in a low-scoring slog between Merrigum and Girgarre on the weekend.
With just two goals between the sides on the board at half-time, the Bulldogs kicked four majors in the final term to run out 10-point winners.
Josh Smith popped up with three goals, while Joe Sullivan, Geoff Connally, Charlie Lowe, Christian Barnett, Jack Sinclair and Jake Parkinson were excellent for Merrigum.
Merrigum coach Mick Power said it was a battle of the backlines, with solid defence at both ends of the field.
“It was a real arm wrestle for most of the game,” he said.
“We were slow to start and got smashed in clearances for the first quarter. It was only our strength down back that kept us in the game in the first term.
“Some structural changes were made after half-time and prevented Girgarre from getting loose men behind the footy.
“Josh Smith was able to kick three quick goals after the break and that really was the difference in the game.”
Power said the Kangaroos played a different style of football than Merrigum were used to.
“It took us a while to adjust and even when we got on top, the last quarter was a real contest. I was glad we were able to hang on and get the four points to keep our season alive,” he said
“Our delivery into the forward line has been an issue all year and still needs improvement if we are going to challenge the top sides.
“We also need to work harder through the middle of the ground to turn the footy over when the opposition have it.
“If we want to play finals we have to win our next one against Lancaster.”
MERRIGUM came from behind to snatch a 19-goal victory against Girgarre on the weekend.
Despite a slow start, the Bulldogs rallied at half-time, tightening their defence and taking a more disciplined approach to the game.
Emma Ryan and Mikalah Hard combined well with accurate goaling to capitalise on their opportunities.
Millie Lowe created space and consistent opportunities for the goalers from wing attack and goal defence
Coach Katie Cordingley said she was proud of her team for coming from behind while missing key players Stacey Fitzsimmons and Darcy D’Augello.
“Girgarre have very accurate goalers which allowed them to get that strong start,” she said.
“We managed to get on top by shutting down the play before it got to the goalers.
“We applied strong pressure to their centre passes and to set shots which created turnovers for us.”
Cordingley said she is hopeful of collecting more points when her side travels to Lancaster this weekend.
“There will be a lot of footwork drills at training this week as well as working on tight defence to close the space between us and the opposition,” she said.
“Another big thing to work on is our passes. We need to improve our execution and ability to get the ball into the open space for the leading girl to run on to.”