BFNL Round 1 Netball Preview


Two of the best clash on Kangaroos’ court

TWO of the league’s best of recent A-grade netball seasons, Kangaroo Flat and Sandhurst clash in Saturday’s start to the Bendigo Bank Bendigo FNL season.

It’s a twilight showdown between the Kangaroos and Dragons on Kangaroo Flat’s court at Dower Park.

Play starts at 4pm.

Stung by consecutive defeats in last September’s finals action, Kangaroo Flat will be determined to bounce back.

The Roos are again coached by Jayden Cowling who was in the centre as Victoria won gold at last weekend’s Australian Men’s and Mixed Netball Association championships.

Plenty of Bendigo Strikers who have been playing in the Victorian Netball League midweek will be in action for both teams.

The Kangaroos’ line-up includes Strikers’ stars Chelsea Sartori, Ash Ryan and Milly Wicks.

Sandhurst has five Strikers – Heather Oliver, Charlotte and Imogen Sexton, Ruby Turner and Meg Williams – in the A-grade squad.

A major strength of the Kangaroos’ line-up is the goaling circle where Abbey Ryan and Annie Spear have excelled.

The Roos also recruited Chloe Langley, a multiple winner of South Bendigo’s A-grade best and fairest award, and key player in the Bendigo Strikers 23-and-under team.

In defence, Steph Greene from South Bendigo slots in following the departure of Carly Van Den Heuvel to Bridgewater.

Beaten by a goal in last September’s grand final, Sandhurst is likely to be at or near the top rung all season.

The Dragons had won four premierships in a row before Gisborne’s stunning upset in the ’23 decider.

A Sandhurst team coached by Tamara Gilchrist has plenty of experience and skill in all thirds of the court.

There’s at least one change to the starting line-up as Heather Oliver moves from defence to replace brilliant goal attack Kelsey Meade.

A formidable squad includes Shae Clifford and Sophie Shoebridge.

A new-look Strathfieldsaye is on its court at Triple M Park in Tannery Lane to take on South Bendigo.

Key inclusions for Storm are the Mangan sisters – Brooke, Jess and Rachelle – from Kyneton which has joined the Riddell District FNL.

Storm coach Steph Freemantle believes the defensive duo of captain Emmie Banfield and Jess Mangan will be a major strength of the team.

Claire Gibbs is back in the goaling circle and Paynton Jolliffe has crossed from Golden Square.

Another player to watch is Brylee Wilson in mid-court.

At South Bendigo, Alicia McGlashan steps up to be playing coach of A-grade.

A multiple premiership winner at Kangaroo Flat, McGlashan is likely to play at goal defence.

The Bloods have worked incredibly hard to be in the league’s top five for several years, but fallen at the elimination final hurdle.

Newcomers for the red and white include Izzy Coutts from Boort, tall defender Kira Baldwin from Lancefield, and the return of goal attack Ella Flavell from Strathfieldsaye.

Goalshooter Chloe Langley has crossed to Kangaroo Flat, so the starting goaling combination is likely to be Olivia Mason and Ella Flavell.

Players to watch in the red and white include Chloe Gray in mid-court, and Steph Goode in defence.

The Kylie Piercy-coached Eaglehawk will be determined to mark a first-up victory when it’s home at Canterbury Park to play Golden Square.

Morgan Keating and Gabe Marlow team up again to be joint co-captains of a team bolstered by the recruitment of goaler Lucy Morcom from Golden Square.

The Hawks squad includes Tiarni Baxter, Elley Lawton and Amy Ryan.

Key off-court changes at Golden Square include the appointment of Chris O’Sullivan as A-grade coach and Teigan Redwood as director of coaching.

The blue and gold will be determined to break their winless run.

A talented group from the 17-and-under team of last season includes Keira Lawry and Daisy Stringer.

Gisborne has the bye.

The Tarryn Rymer-coached Bulldogs will play Sandhurst in the grand final rematch at the Queen Elizabeth Oval in the second round on April 20.

Because Maryborough is not fielding an A-grade team, Castlemaine did not play Good Friday.

The Castlemaine line-up will start its season on April 20 against South Bendigo at Harry Trott Oval in Kennington’s Neale Street.