Panthers fall as Dogs and Pigeons set pace

Yarrawonga’s Laura Bourke battles with Albury’s Justine Willis and Brigetta Hart. Picture: JOHN RUSSELL

Yarrawonga’s Laura Bourke battles with Albury’s Justine Willis and Brigetta Hart. Picture: JOHN RUSSELL

WODONGA and Yarrawonga now sit on top of the netball ladder as defending premiers Lavington crashed to its third successive defeat at the weekend.

A blistering first quarter set the tone for the Bulldogs in their 54-43 win over the never-say-die Panthers, while the Pigeons trailled by one at half-time before beating Albury 54-40.

Wodonga coach Kylie Murphy said the plan was to start well and she wasn’t disappointed — with the Dogs up by five at the first break.

“We wanted to get on top of them and hopefully that would impact on their confidence after two consecutive losses,” she said.

“Against tall sides you just can’t throw long passes, so we wanted to be patient, keep the passes short and sharp, go backwards if we had to and get on the ring and feed our shooters.

“Our best two quarters were our first and last and in between Lavington came at us hard, got within one in the second quarter, three or four in the third.

“But each time the girls lifted, never got nervous, never had any doubts.”

Murphy replaced Anna Avery at half-time at centre, while young gun Maggie Young gave Sarah Thomas a rest in the third quarter.

“We had nine great players on Saturday,” Murphy said.

“Rebecca Rowland and Gemma Grimmond were great in defence, Bec Cameron only missed two shots.

“Jane Cook played one of her strongest games, she was just so aggressive, she knew she had to be tough against such great defenders.

“It is such a physical game against Lavington, particularly through the mid-court, and everyone stood up.”

Yarrawonga maintained its surge up the ladder with a come-from-behind win against the Tigers — down by two at quarter-time, one at the main break.

It reversed a shock loss in the first round.

“Every time we play Albury it’s really tough — they always fight for the four quarters,” coach Kaitlyn Cummins said.

“But we started slowly and didn’t really get into gear until the third quarter when we brought Hannah Symes into the game.”

Cummins said while the top five appeared to have been settled, there was no room for complacency.

“Every week seems hard no matter who you play,” she said.

“Look at Lavington, unbeaten for almost the entire first round and now losing three in a row.

“Wangaratta and Corowa are the knockout sides and they will have a say in where everyone finishes inside that top five.

“It’s a long way to go before the finals.”