By Nathan Dole
COLBINABBIN will be ready for Heathcote’s pressure in Saturday’s start to the A-grade netball action in the Bendigo Bank Heathcote District Football Netball League.
The Grasshoppers and Saints have high expectations going into a new season and this clash at M.. Morgan Reserve in Colbinabbin.
The Jen McIntyre-coached Colbinabbin will be keen to build on the momentum of a preliminary final appearance.
Although the Hoppers were one of the youngest in the competition they defied the odds to again feature so highly.
A huge plus for the green and gold is the return of multiple premiership winner and dual Esther Chestley medallist as league fairest and best, Olivia McEvoy.
Key players for Colbo include Tanzin and Zar Myers, Ella Kerlin, and Elle Palmer.
Stability is a key for Heathcote as it strives to build on a 5-11 record and sixth placing last year.
The Saints are jointly coached by Brooke Bolton, a brilliant mid-courter and dual Cheatley medallist, and Kelsey Hayes.
The sole depature from last year’s A-grade team was Chelsea Harrison, but the Saints have brought in Chelsea Caughey and Maeve Hogan.
The attack is likely to again by led by Georgia Bolton and Annalyse Carroll.
Huntly faces a daunting task against reigning premier, Elmore.
The Hawks do have home-court advantage at Strauch Reserve.
A mid-court star, Kym Bell is the new A-grade coach after the reign of Emily Eliades which had included regularly featuring in the finals.
Newcomers for the Hawks include goalshooter Bree Burt and Erin Scott, while Ash Sherlock and Sam Nelson make a comeback to the game.
Taylor Mann and Serryn Eenjes went one-two in last season’s club best and fairest award and will again be keys in Huntly’s charge.
It’s a different Elmore team to the one which broke a 54-year premiership drought in last season’s grand final.
The Bloods start a new campaign without Allira Holmes and Kelsey Niven, both pregnant, and Andrea Wilson, knee injury, on court.
It will be Holmes and gun goalshooter Gabe Richards who team up as coaches, just as they did last season.
A brilliant line-up in the red and white includes Tahnee Cannan, goal attack Abbey Hromenko, and Ellie Laffy.
Leitchville-Gunbower takes on White Hills at Leitchville.
Gemma Angove takes charge as LG’s coach.
A new-look team for the Bombers includes Matilda Candy from Lockington-Bamawm United, and Kerang’s Maddy Hall.
The club also has talented youngster such as Madison Curran, Maddie Elliott and Ellah Gelletly keen to make their mark in A-grade.
Runner-up in ’22, White Hills has bolstered its squad with the signing of Bridget Murray who previously played for Eaglehawk, and former South Bendigo defender or wing defence Amy Morrissey.
Sarah Nash is also back at White Hills after a stint with South Bendigo, and the Demons have gained Gracie Warnock from Benalla.
The Lauren Bowles-coached Demons have Alyssa Cole and Olivia Treloar in attack to cap off the work of the mid-court.
Consistency in quarters and every match is the key for the Shellie Davies-coached North Bendigo.
Although they finished ninth last season, a high for North Bendigo was the 42-37 win against a Mount Pleassant team which went through to the finals.
The Bulldogs and Blues meet in round one at Hibo Hotel Oval in North Bendigo’s Atkins Street.
Recruits for the red, white and blue are defender Genevieve McColl, and the Kinder cousins, Georgia and Jasmine.
They join Georgia Carmen, Imogen Davies, Jess Hinrichsen and Darcy Scott in the push to claim a top-five finish.
It’s a new look for Mount Pleasant following last year’s fourth placing.
The Carine Comer-coached Blues have brought in mid-courter Matisse Perez from Sandhurst to team up with the talented Aish and Maeve Tupper.
Player turnover has opened up chances for teenagers Ava and Olivia Nihill in attack and defence/midcourt.
The Blues have Ivy Harrop and Kristen Lang to lead the defence against the Bulldogs.