HUNDREDS converged into the Gippsland Regional Indoor Sports Stadium (GRISS) for the Gippsland Stars first match in their local region, where they faced off against the Boroondara Express during Netball Victoria’s Regional Round in the Victorian Netball League.

The seats were packed and the raucous crowd anticipated a tight matchup between two even 23 & Under sides, while on the opposite court VNL Championship action was happening between the Hawks and the Peninsula Waves.

Boroondara did get a hold of the Stars in the end, 53-40 after an impressive second half.

The Stars were out to win, no question. An all-out, entertaining first half of netball made it appear certain that the game would go down to the wire.

It was back and forth through the first 10 minutes with the ball flinging from end to end, before the Express closed it out firmly ending the first quarter up 13-10.

Even then, the Stars kept that same force through the opener answering every conceded goal once again through the first 10 minutes of the quarter’s play.

Boroondara would then dish out five goals to two ending the first half up 27-23, with plenty of time still remaining.

One thing that kept the Stars from capitalising and getting on top of their opponent was some costly and untimely turnovers and mistakes at the end of each of the opening two quarters that had to do with Boroondara’s relentless pace of the game that the Stars felt they had to match.

Those unfortunate rushed passes that found their way into the opposition’s hands or out of bounds bled into the early stages of the second half as the Express jumped to a 10-4 run to begin the third quarter, to get out to a 10-goal lead that the Stars just couldn’t overcome.

Key players for the Stars included Chloe Radford in wing attack – time-after-time finding time and narrow space to hurl passes into her shooters, as well as team captain Ava Gaul through the centre, and Anna Solomon and Paris Dunkley working well in defence.

Goal shooter Myah Healey couldn’t be stopped putting in a match-high 28 goals scoring at 74 per cent, along with seven goals from goal attack Charlize Traumanis, and five goals from Sophie Lecchino.

Regardless of the results, to see the Gippsland community rally behind in the team’s first season and first (and only for the season) at home was unbelievable, Gippsland Stars President, Jodi Galea said.

“I couldn’t believe when they said that we had over 500 tickets sold, so that was amazing and it’s just great to see all of the support coming (in), there’s people coming here (GRISS) from Lakes Entrance all the way through to Pakenham… it’s good to see all the towns come together,” Galea said.

In Championship play, the Hawks ran out 47-goal winners over Peninsula Waves.

Netball Victoria’s Regional Round is an opportunity for sides across the VNL to be showcased in some of the association’s newest clubs, in this instance, right here in Traralgon.

In total there was three games across the day at GRISS. Along with the headlining double-header, the Hawks and Peninsula Waves had their 23 & Under teams play at 12.30pm with the Hawks winning a close one, 55-53.

The Stars will be looking forward to seeing many more games played in Gippsland over the next few years as they get implemented into the competition and to give the locals more time to get to see their Stars play.

The Gippsland Stars joined the premier state level competition in the VNL for the 2024 season in the newly-created 23 & Under division before they plan to enter both the Championship and 23 & Under divisions in the near future.