GIPPSLAND East bowled an understrength West over 70-31 in Saturday’s first intraleague netball showdown at Western Park, Warragul.
With Bendigo Football Netball League opting to send a lone football team and no netball sides for this year’s interleague contest, the Gippsland League staged an intraleague contest to ensure a representative netball fixture for the calendar.
It was also an opportunity to show off the new-look Gippsland netball dress, which now features the red white and blue of the football jumpers.
The open match split Gippsland into West, which included Wonthaggi, Leongatha Drouin and Warragul, and East featuring Bairnsdale, Traralgon and Morwell players.
West had late withdrawals and had to track down substitutes while the East went in at full strength.
The game started with great intensity from both sides.
The East team settled quickly and scored the first goal.
West took a while to settle into the game which showed on the scoreboard at the first break.
East’s mid court of centre Stacey O’Brien, wing attack Rachael Allison and goal attack Sam Pearce worked tirelessly all match with great speed and agility, feeding the ball into their tall shooter, Ramayer Gourley, whose accuracy and strength in the circle was supreme.
The west defensive unit of Kym Diston, Taylah Bell and Maddy Stevenson worked hard to create some turnovers to keep it out of the goal circle.
Goal keeper Bell contested every ball but it was Gourley’s day.
West goal attack Kate McCarthy proved herself early, taking some great shots, and the movement of the ball from Tomi Cook in the centre and wing attack Christie Edwards was purposeful.
Shooter Courtney Brann stepped up into the open squad for the day and, after a shaky start, settled well in the second quarter in which she shot beautifully.
The defence from the east with Caitlan Ponton, Courtney Garth, Amelia Charlton and Lexi Bowe applied great pressure to disrupt the West’s forward thrusts.
With the East breaking away to a comfortable lead the West introduced 17 and under Warragul player Chiara Mulqueen at goal shooter.
Chiara moved well and put some lovely shots up in her stint on court.
The other highlight for the day was an all-abilities challenge match between two Drouin sides and Leongatha.
The All Ability program has been running for 12 years at Drouin, and this year the numbers have increased substantially, allowing two teams to compete on a weekly basis in the winter competition.
Both sides turned in a great performance and enjoyed the challenge.
The teams will meet again in October at Werribee at the Netball Victoria State Titles.
Gippsland East 70
Gippsland West 31