Thunder strikes Storm in season’s opening round
THUNDER and Storm collide in this Sunday’s start to the Champions IGA-backed Central Victoria Football League’s senior women’s competition.
A new-look Bendigo Thunder will be aiming to capitalise on home ground advantage at Weeroona Oval against Strathfieldaye Storm from 2.30pm.
The other match to kick off the season will be at Eaglehawk’s Canterbury Park where the Two Blues meet North Bendigo from 2.30pm.
In a blow to the league, Kangaroo Flat has withdrawn for the ’22 season after battling to gain enough players.
Thunder has welcomed back 2017 premiership player Jac Louttit as coach and also bolstered its team by the signing of Bella Ayre as assistant coach.
It will be a tough task for the Jake Donegan-coached Storm in the opening round.
Before last season was called off because of Covid, Thunder had a win-loss tally of 9-3 and was second on the ladder.
One of Thunder’s three defeats last year was on July 11 when Storm won on Thunder’s turf, 49-33.
Tia Davidge led Strathfieldsaye’s attack on three goals and was among the best with Claire Macgill and Alana Long.
Thunder’s leading goalkickers were Britney Mueck and Kylie Wilson, two apiece, as Wilson, Hannah Perry and Brianna Burt were best.
Gun recruits for Thunder include Jess Kennedy and Jacqui Graham.
Kennedy was a midfielder for Carlton in the first AFLW season and went on to captain Richmond in VFLW.
Her return to the club is a huge plus, along with Graham who played VFLW with the Tigers and will play a key role in Thunder’s defence.
Experience that Bella Ayre gained from AFLW stints at Carlton and Brisbane will be invaluable in Thunder’s quest to break Golden Square’s dominance.
Thunder’s on-field leaders will be Phoebe Cuttriss as captain, and Shae Murphy and Hannah Perry as vice-captains.
Other players to watch for Thunder include last season’s club champion, Megan Williamson, and runner-up Brianna Burt.
Storm had no luck with injury as it ended the 2021 campaign on a 5-7 record.
Key players for Strathfieldsaye include Ireland O’Rourke, Eliza Long, Keisha Tonzing, Bridget Chalkley, Jessica and Kate Kopp, and Britt Tangey.
The Geoff West-coached Eaglehawk will be aiming to build on the momentum gained from last season’s 9-3 run and third placing.
When the Hawks and North Bendigo last met on August 1 it was a 135-nil victory for Eaglehawk.
A talented Eaglehawk line-up includes Charlotte Edlin, Hannah Kenny, Kirstin Shaw, Grace Murley, Samantha Heron and Lily den Houting.
Newcomers for the Two Blues include Chloe Green and Kelly Mensforth who were with Kangaroo Flat last season.
After a winless run in 2021, North Bendigo will be determined to be far more competitive.
North Bendigo’s major goals include not conceding as many goals last year, and also creating and capitalising on more scoring chances.
Key players for the red, white and blue include Cassandra Coughlan, Paris Keogh-Beacom, Maddie Jelbart, Taylah Nicholson, Kirsty Galea and Tegan Stuchbery.
The first-round clash between Kyneton and Kerang is being held over until Good Friday when the Tigers and Blues will play at Kyneton Showgrounds from 5.15pm.
Clubs to have the bye in the season’s first round are league newcomer, Castlemaine, and reigning premier, Golden Square.
After a 40-goal haul to be the CVFLW’s leading goalkicker for Golden Square last season, Tiahna Cochrane will mark her coaching debut when Castlemaine plays Kyneton on April 9 at Camp Reserve to kick off round two.
The Magpies and Tigers will play from 5.15pm.
Other matches in round two on April 10 from 2.30pm are North Bendigo at home to Golden Square, Kerang faces Bendigo Thunder at Riverside Park, and Strathfieldsaye plays Eaglehawk at Tannery Lane.
Written by Nathan Dole.