Tatura was proud to unveil a host of young local players graduating to open age Goulburn Valley League netball on Saturday.
Elsie Boyer, Stephanie Hicks, Hayley Rennie, Lucy Somers, Emily Wilson, Caitlin Pogue and Teah Ryan, and the unavailable Olivia Vraca are all local products who have played junior netball with Tatura from primary school age.
It is a testament to the hard work done over a long period of time in the junior ranks that such netballers have been produced that are capable of playing GVL netball.
In what promised to be an intriguing battle, Tatura faced the well-recruited Kyabram which had added Wellman medallist Emma Ryan to its ranks during the break and had welcomed back a host of other premiership players.
Tatura too had recruited well, adding Stephanie Gorrie and Jacqui James to the line-up.
Unfortunately James was out injured and starting shooter Olivia Vraca was unavailable.
However, this allowed 14-year-old Elsie Boyer, the reigning GVL 15-and-under medallist, to make her A-grade debut.
Kyabram got off to a flyer in the first quarter, which ultimately proved to be the difference in what was largely an even contest thereafter, and secured a 45 to 19 win.
Jade Kaye was great in defence, playing on GVL superstar Elle Groves, and holding her well.
Recruit Gorrie was smooth throughout and the team will only improve with her presence during the season.
Taylor Rokahr was also impressive in the midcourt in her return to Tatura.
With a host of players to return, coaches Gaye Eaton and Molly Boyle would pleased with the signs and potential for improvement after a strong hit out against a Kyabram team that will be aiming for a top two finish.
Best players: Gorrie, Rokahr and Kaye.
Multiple Tatura premiership player Lisa Cullum took charge of her first game with B-grade.
In what was a tight and fierce game Kyabram were able to sneak home 34 to 27, with only no more than a two-goal margin separating the teams quarter by quarter.
Kobi Worner was superb in defence, with her intercepts and reading of the play outstanding.
Her combination with wing defence Rachel Thomson provided great drive down the court towards the attacking end.
Returning player Savannah Zito played through the mid-court and also shot and was impressive. Her positional flexibility was a highlight.
Best players: Worner, Thomson and Zito.
B-Reserve was chasing its first win in more than three year and the signs were promising from the start with new coach Kobi Worner in charge, ably assisted by Hall of Famer Sarah Tee.
The Bulldogs had a three-goal advantage at the first break and maintained that margin to half-time.
The Bulldogs dominated defensively with Ash Svoboda and Under-17 fill-in Emily Wilson dominating the ring with a strong physical presence and deft rebounding.
Likewise, the midcourt proved a handful for the Bombers with debutant Maddi Biggs too quick and skilled for her opponents.
Her feeds into the ring allowed shooters Chloe Lowden and Beth Seccull ample opportunities.
The back up of Caitlin Pogue at wing defence also gave the attackers time to find position.
Scores were all square at the last change.
Tatura had its chances but could not get over the line, falling 40 to 46.
While there is little doubt a win is not far away, the team will have to take its chances in the attacking ring in future to get the job done.
Best players: Biggs, Svoboda and Wilson.
The team began its season the previous Tuesday at Tatura at the request of Kyabram with a 46 to 40 win.
The game was played in hot conditions and tight from the outset with Kyabram’s deadly accurate shooters keeping them in the game, securing them a one-goal advantage at half-time.
However in the second half Tatura’s fitness began to tell the tale and it went into the last break with a three-goal lead, blowing the margin out to six at the final whistle.
Emily Wilson, who was filling in at goal shooter, was outstanding in the ring and combined with Bec Valentine who played out at goal attack, a position she normally does not play.
Valentin’s defensive pressure down the court was outstanding, with both her and Wilson accurate throughout.
Elsie Boyer’s remarkable hands were also on show with beautiful feeds inside.
In the critical final quarter when the game was on the line defender Pottsy Shipston secured a vital intercept that broke the Kyabram centre and resulted in the fabled ‘three-goal turnaround’.
Shortly after her fellow defensive partner in crime Hayley Rennie did likewise and the Pups were never headed after that.
Coach Gaye Eaton and assistant Lisa Cullum had a difficult job in nominating best players given the even team performance.
Best players: Wilson, Valentin and Boyer.
The team opened its account against Kyabram in round one with an emphatic 42 to 22 win.
The young Bulldogs won every quarter and, pleasingly, were able to stretch the margin at each break.
The defensive combination of Tayla Albrey-Mills and bottom ager Charlette Gray was particularly dominant and will no doubt make for some anxious moments throughout the season for GVL attackers.
Coach Fiona Boyer was able to mix and match positional changes throughout the game and experiment with combinations that will allow greater flexibility throughout the season.
The returning Savannah Clothier-Harris spent time shooting and in the midcourt, likewise did new recruit Lainey Short (in name only).
There would also appear to be great room for improvement, with the enthusiastic team jelling well and eager to learn.
Best players: Clothier-Harris, Gray and Short.