THE Bulldogs’ finals hopes are slipping away after a disappointing display against Avenel on the weekend.
Merrigum was belted by a premiership contender for the second week in a row, with the Swans demolishing the Bulldogs by 111-points.
Still harbouring finals ambitions, the Bulldogs were competitive early, but Avenel kicked 11 goals to two after half-time.
Merrigum coach Mick Power said the performance was better than against Nagambie but admitted his side’s finals hopes were slipping away with each loss.
“The first quarter was fairly even until they hurt us with two late goals,” he said.
“We need to make more of our inside 50 movement to score more.
“They used the ball better than us and took their opportunities inside 50.”
Merrigum was best served by Jack Sinclair, Austin Bizzotto, Liam Cross, Kain Smiljanic and Josh Smith (two goals).
“Jack continued his good recent form playing in the midfield, Austin played his best game for the season and Joe Sullivan and Liam Cross battled hard in the midfield,” Power said.
“Stanhope will be a must win for us. We have done alright against Stanhope the past couple of seasons, so we will be up for the challenge.”
AN UNDERSTRENGTH Merrigum suffered a 14-goal defeat to Avenel on the weekend.
With Stacey Fitzsimmons, Millie Lowe and playing-coach Katie Cordingley all unavailable, it was an uphill battle for the Bulldogs.
Fitness was the key for the Swans who overran Merrigum late in the game. With minimal players available, everyone was working overtime.
Merrigum coach Katie Cordingley said she was proud of her team’s determination and ability to see the game out.
“B grade player Leesa Hogan played her first game in A grade and under 17’s Jorja Tranter filled another gap. They both did a fantastic job,” she said.
“We have some really strong defenders so they are doing a great job trying to fill the gap left by Karen Hands.
“Best on was Emma Ryan in goal shooter. She shot very accurately and was very strong in the ring making feeding into the ring easier.
‘‘Second best was Mikalah Hard in goal attack. She created a lot of options in the ring and shot accurately and applied great defensive pressure.”
Cordingley said her team would focus on settling into new roles and building partnerships to replace players.
“We have the gap of Karen Hands to fill in defence and the centre position will need a replacement as I am out for the rest of the season,” she said.
“It will be tough but the girls are up to it and they will do a great job.
“We are keen for the game against Stanhope. It will be good to see what the girls can do and a good chance for me to coach another game from the sideline.”
GIRGARRE brought Longwood’s two-game winning streak to a crashing end on the weekend, dominating by a stunning 88-points.
While the Redlegs secured the first goals of the game, Girgarre pulled away after quarter time to prevail 22.18 (150) for 9.8 (62) for its fifth win of the season.
Girgarre showed its increased strength on the field with players Jake Hyland, Callum Tucker and Griffin Bird back from injury.
The Roos’ forward line put up a strong performance with Jackson Neville scoring five goals and Matt Bartlett and Ash Kirchhofer booting four respectively.
Girgarre coach Shannon Tucker said the team was pleased to get back on the wins.
“A few of the guys were refreshed after the bye, plus it was good to have a couple of the blokes back from injuries,” he said.
“While Longwood got us on the hop in the first quarter, we answered back and put in a solid four-quarter performance and played the strong, structured footy we want to play.”
Ash Hughes stood out on the field, playing his 50th senior game for Girgarre, while Ash Kirchhofer also worked hard.
Tucker said the team would be approaching this weekend’s game against Undera with confidence.
‘‘They’ve been struggling a bit this year. But as always, we just need to stick to our structures and play good team footy and hopefully we can get another win.”
VICTORY was sweet for Girgarre once again on the weekend with the Kangaroos beating Longwood 44 to 28.
After a win against Ardmona brought Girgarre’s extended losing streak to an end last week, the Roos were thrilled to conquer this weekend’s away game.
Leading by two points in the first quarter, Girgarre steadily increased the margin, up by seven points in the final term.
“We took a little while to settle into the game in the first quarter, as this was our first wet weather game and it was wet and cold,” Girgarre coach Debbie McArdle said.
“But once we found our rhythm we played a good game.”
A strong defence kept Longwood’s scoring opportunities in check, while the goalers tirelessly battled the elements to ensure Girgarre maintained the lead.
Best on court went to Erin Conneely for a fierce performance in goalkeeper, while goal shooter Sheree Starling played a strong game moving around the mid-court and goal circle.
While McArdle said the Redlegs played a rough game, Girgarre didn’t fall into their play.
Taking on Undera this week, the team plan to work passing and positioning at training.
“This week’s game will be a good challenge and should show us if we can step up to another level,” McArdle said.
“I would like to show them our improvement since we played last – and hopefully we can get another win.”
AFTER two weeks off, the Wombats are refreshed and keen to get back on the field.
With a bye and an additional break due to Ardmona pulling their seniors team, Lancaster used the time off to prepare for tough weeks ahead.
While the Wombats are currently occupying a finals position on the ladder, Lancaster coach Nick Bertoli said the team won’t be relaxing any time soon.
“We’ll need to knuckle down and win every game to make finals,” he said.
“Being in sixth position definitely increases the pressure, but we want to make it, so we will do whatever it takes to get there.”
As it has been two years since Lancaster last made a finals berth, Bertoli said the team was gearing up for some tough footy.
“Finals are different games, so if we make it this year we’re just hoping to win a couple of them,” he said.
“Training in the coming weeks will focus on increasing our skill level and decision-making abilities, as well as our tackling.”
With Michael Hill back from injuries and a number of other players refreshed from the bye, Bertoli said the break gave Lancaster an ideal opportunity to reassess.
“We’ve had a couple of shocking games this season and we’re better than that,” he said.
“We’re looking forward to getting through these next few games and building towards finals.
“I’m confident that if we continue to play as we have in our strongest games, we can do well.”
LANCASTER bounced back in top form after a bye, snaring a 14-point win against Ardmona.
The Wombats started strong with a seven-point lead at quarter time, steadily increasing the margin to 13 points at half-time.
While Lancaster’s scoring accuracy was down in the third term, it wasn’t enough for the home team to close the margin.
Lancaster coach Laura Thomson said the girls were thrilled to get another win under their belts.
“Having won against Violet Town two weeks ago, this really boosted the girls’ confidence and showed them all their hard work and persistence is paying off,” she said.
“With a week off for our bye, I was concerned we might lose our roll.
“But we trained as normal and focused on some team building drills to came out ready to play hard against Ardmona – and the girls were rewarded for this.”
While rain and whipping winds increased loose balls and fumbles, the Wombats’ eagerness for the ball kept it in their possession.
Zoe Backway continued to shine as a new addition to the A Grade side this year, adding enthusiasm and drive to the team.
Ash Ryan also adapted smoothly to a new position on the weekend, playing a calm game in defence.
While Thomson was out with an ankle injury last weekend, she hopes to be back in time for the upcoming game against Longwood.
“With the hard work and persistence of all the girls, we are hoping to pull off another win this weekend,” she said.
“Everyone needs to put in a solid game and remain focused so we can keep up a high standard of play for the remainder of the season.”
STANHOPE is looking to bounce back from a disappointing performance against Avenel when it faces Merrigum this weekend.
A poor goal kicking display cost the Lions, with multiple sprayed shots dashing any hopes of overcoming the Swans.
Currently sitting fourth on the ladder, it has been a strong season for Stanhope despite consistent injuries.
Coach Brenton Gray said his team was confident after their week off.
“We’ve worked on goal kicking and did some more fitness work,” he said.
“Our season hasn’t gone to plan. We’ve had a lot of injuries and dropped a few games we shouldn’t have.”
But despite the disrupted season, Gray said he was confident his team were in a good position for finals.
The return of Lachlan West, Jesse Olsen and James Fraser will bolster the Lions for their clash with Merrigum, and their upcoming matches against Violet Town and Tallygaroopna.
“Those blokes are contested ball winners and that’s something we’ve been lacking,” Gray said.
“Fitness levels are good. We did a solid bit of work early in the year and picked it up again towards the middle.
‘‘Our finals chances depend on having players available. Hopefully we can give some guys a rest and have them primed for finals.’’
STANHOPE are “fit and firing” for their clash with Merrigum this weekend.
The Lions are looking for redemption after a disappointing one-goal loss to the Bulldogs earlier in the season.
Currently sitting fourth on the ladder, securing the points would go a long way towards a finals birth for the Lions as they enter the final weeks of the season.
Coach Kerrie Gray said players were given a week off to ensure they were fresh for a tough run home against Merrigum, Violet Town and Tallygaroopna.
‘‘We had a really challenging start to the season, with wins few and far between. Our playing group has remained positive, worked hard and has recently been rewarded for their hard work.
‘‘I think our focus on getting the basics right has benefited us and I think we will be reliant on this area of our game over the next few weeks if we want to play finals netball this season.
“The girls worked hard to build a good fitness base during preseason and have worked equally hard to maintain it during the season.
“Finals is still a way off for us, we have not yet secured our place. Our focus is week to week and getting the job done in the hope we can create an opportunity to play finals netball.”