BFNL Round 2 Netball Preview


Grand final rematch a highlight of round

A REMATCH of ’23 grand finalists, Sandhurst and Gisborne highlights this Saturday’s second round of A-grade netball in the Bendigo Bank Bendigo FNL season.

The Dragons and Bulldogs will play at Queen Elizabeth Oval from 2.30pm.

Last September it was the Tarryn Rymer-coached Gisborne which denied the Dragons a fifth consecutive premiership in a one-goal victory.

Sandhurst has home-court advantage and the benefit of a round one hit-out at Kangaroo Flat as it takes on a team which had the bye last Saturday.

A new feature in ’24 is rolling subs in which changes can be made during quarters instead of waiting for a quarter-time break.

The Tamara Gilchrist-coached Sandhurst has a powerful defence led by Ruby Turner and Charlotte Sexton.

After starring at wing defence, dual Betty Thompson medallist Heather Oliver has switched to goal attack as Kelsey Meade is not playing because of pregnancy.

In attack it’s Oliver and Bec Smith to capitalise on the play of the mid-court.

Shae Clifford made a brilliant start from mid-court as the Dragons marked a 46-39 win at Kangaroo Flat.

The Dragons were without Meg Williams, ankle, for the clash on the Roos’ court.

Gisborne welcomes back Maddy Stewart, a dual winner of the Betty Thompson Medal for the league’s fairest and best player.

Stewart slots into defence to replace Zoe Davies who is in England playing for Leeds Rhinos.

A talented line-up in the red, white and blue includes Kirby Elliott, Claudia Mawson and goalshooter Tori Skrijel.

Another player to watch is teenager Dasha Taylor.

Castlemaine marks its first match of the season when it plays South Bendigo at Kennington’s Harry Trott Oval.

The Magpies did play Maryborough in the lower grades on Good Friday at Camp Reserve, but Maryborough is not fielding an A-grade team this season.

At Castlemaine, Chloe Hughes takes charge as A-grade coach.

A premiership player at Shepparton United, Hughes and her Magpies’ team-mates will be aiming to build on last year’s run to a preliminary final.

In the past two seasons it was Fiona Fowler, playing, and Gary Cooke, non-playing, who coached Castlemaine to fourth and third placings.

The Magpies beat South Bendigo and Kangaroo Flat in last year’s finals campaign.

South Bendigo fought on for a 36-34 victory on Strathfieldsaye’s court last Saturday.

A multiple premiership winner at Kangaroo Flat, Alicia McGlashan has stepped up to now be playing coach at South Bendigo.

Line-ups have changed dramatically, but South Bendigo was eliminated from the finals race by Castlemaine the past two seasons.

The Chris O’Sullivan-coached Golden Square showed plenty of signs of improvement in a 33-44 result at Eaglehawk’s Canterbury Park in round one.

This Saturday the Square is home at Wade Street to take on Strathfieldsaye Storm.

A Storm line-up coached by Steph Freemantle will be keen to hit back from a narrow defeat.

Kangaroo Flat’s A-grade team has a rest this Saturday, but the Roos will play Maryborough in all other grades of netball at Princes Park.

The Kylie Piercy-coached Eaglehawk has the bye.

Standings in the Bendigo FNL A-grade netball competition:

Eaglehawk 133 per cent, 4 points; Sandhurst 117, 4; South Bendigo 105, 4; Strathfieldsaye 94, 0; Kangaroo Flat 84, 0; Golden Square 75, 0; Castlemaine 0, 0; Gisborne 0, 0.