A SPECTACULAR draw between reigning open champion Gippsland and Mid Gippsland highlighted a thrilling debut for the Regional Victorian Netball League on Friday.
The former Eastern Regional State League now features four teams in the open division and five in the new 19 and under age division.
The new moniker brought with it an instant classic as Mid Gippsland came out firing in the first quarter to score a massive 20 goals to Gippsland’s 14.
Gippsland slowly clawed away at the deficit throughout the game and went into the fourth quarter only two goals down.
The final term was a tug-of-war; Gippsland finally levelled scores but could not break through for a win as the whistle sounded for a 49-49 draw.
East Gippsland defeated Morwell Indoor Red in the other open clash in a comfortable 43-29 romp.
The introduction of the under 19 competition, designed to attract more players and strengthen juniors before competing in the open division, was also a hit.
Sale Netball Association put on a second half show to knock over North Gippsland Netball Association 57-34.
Pakenham returned to the fold with an under 19 side against an undermanned Mid Gippsland unit, which lost a player to a suspected wrist fracture prior to the match.
Mid Gippsland fought bravely with six players and trailed by just four goals heading into the second half.
Strength in numbers proved the difference as Pakenham ran the game out 30-25.
Games are played Friday nights from 7.15pm at Latrobe Leisure Churchill.
Gippsland 49 drew Mid Gippsland 49
East Gippsland 43 defeated Morwell Indoor Red 29
19 and under
Sale defeated 51 North Gippsland 34
Pakenham 30 defeated Mid Gippsland 25