ROUND 1 HDFNL NETBALL | Bloods face Grasshoppers at Elmore


A CLASH of two of the A-grade netball competition’s best, Elmore and Colbinabbin features in Saturday’s start to the Bendigo Bank Heathcote DFNL season.

Elmore has home-court advantage for when the twilight clash begins at 5.45pm.

When these clubs last met it was Colbinabbin which ended Elmore’s quest for back-to-back premierships by winning the preliminary final.

Stung by consecutive finals losses last September, Elmore has plenty of motivation rolling into a new campaign.

The Bloods will again be jointly coached by Allira Holmes and Gabe Richards.

It was a brilliant run of 16-nil in the regular season, but Elmore was outplayed by White Hills and then Colbinabbin in the finals series.

A formidable squad is bolstered by the on-court return of Allira Holmes and defender Kelsey Niven.

Richards will again be the focal point in attack for a squad that includes Tahnee Cannan, Cayde Hayes and Chloe Whitfield.

The Jen McIntyre-coached Colbinabbin surpassed the expectations of many by reaching the 2023 grand final.

Colbinabbin goes into this season with gun mid-courter Olivia McEvoy, a triple winner of the Esther Cheatley Medal as league fairest and best.

The green and gold has gained Kasey Conder from Rochester.

An attack led by Ella Kerlin and Matilda McIntyre, and defensive set-up of Tanzin Myers, Elle Palmer and Ella Turnbull works incredibly hard.

A great rivalry between Mount Pleasant and Heathcote will be renewed on the Toolleen court from 2.30pm.

These clubs met in last year’s elimination final which Mounts won after a final quarter fightback.

A Blues line-up coached by Carine Comer finished in fourth place the past two seasons.

Club great Anthea McCleary who has played more than 400 matches for the Blues steps up to be the A-grade coach.

Mount Pleasant has gained Keeley Jones after stints with Sandhurst and Strathfieldsaye.

Players to watch for the Blues include Ivy Harrop, Ava and Olivia Nihill, Matisse Perez and Maeve Tupper.

Heathcote will be determined to build on the momentum of reaching the finals for the first time in more than a decade.

Brooke Bolton and Kelsey Hayes again team up as playing co-coaches.

A mid-court star, Bolton is also a multiple winner of the Esther Cheatley Medal.

Recruits for the Saints include Sophie Pica who previously played at Strathfieldsaye Storm, and Hayley Hogan, a mid-courter who played for Bridgewater.

Jess Peck is another who steps up from A-reserve.

Key players for the team in red, white and black include Georgia Bolton, Chelsea and Isobel Caughey, and goalkeeper Jen Van Neutegem.

After extensive recruiting campaigns, Lockington Bamawm United and Leitchville Gunbower clash on Lockington’s court at Nichol Trading Oval.

New coach at LBU is Ash Cullen who coached Leitchville Gunbower in 2021 and played for the Bombers the following season.

The Cats recruited Jessica Davidson, Georgia McGowan and Kate Pearson from Echuca United, and also gained Moama’s Georgie Crowe and Delaney Laffey.

Mid-courter Lily Buckingham has also crossed from Calivil United.

Last season’s coach Jessie Hardess will play on in goal, while Jessie Milligan is a key defender.

A mid-court star with Strathfieldsaye, Caitlyn Hamilton steps into coaching for the first time with Leitchville Gunbower.

Newcomers to the LG team include Macey Brereton, Claudia Collins and Ava Hamilton.

Players to watch are reigning club best and fairest Maddie Elliott, and Remi Phillips.

Huntly faces a tough test against reigning premier, White Hills in the season opener.

The Kym Bell-coached Hawks have strengthened their defence through the return of Laura Gillespie, and signing of Jess Hinrichsen, last year’s best and fairest winner at North Bendigo.

Newcomers to Huntly are Caitlin Hinrichsen, and Swan Hill duo Eve and Rose Crowe.

The Hawks also have Mikeely Baber, Brianna Burt, Taylor Mann and Jess Saffron on court.

White Hills has retained eight of last season’s A-grade premiership team.

Tegan Elliston has left the Demons who again have three-time premiership-winning coach Lauren Bowles in charge.

Newcomers to the squad are Amanda Walters from South Bendigo, and Grace Warnock from Euroa.

North Bendigo has the bye.

The red, white and blue head to Elmore for a round two showdown.