Hoppers join the premiership race

NORTH Albury announced its premiership aspirations by knocking off ladder leaders Wodonga by three goals at Bunton Park on Saturday.

Earlier in the year the two had played out a 50-50 draw, but the Hoppers gained the ascendancy on the back of a 15-7 third term.

North Albury coach Fiona Boyer said her team had dominated the game after a slow start.

Among North Albury’s best were defender Jacqui Newton, shooter Jess Fisher-Curnow and first-quarter replacement Sara-Jane Farrell.

“Jacqui challenged herself to attack the ball, not only on her own player but anyone coming into that attacking end, while Jess is such a strong target that it builds confidence in the girls feeding the ball into her,” Boyer said.

“Kim Opdam and Emma Schulz were terrific in the mid court while Sara-Jane Farrell was able to shut down Bec Cameron.

“All the girls pulled up well with the only real cause for concern the possibility of hypothermia, we had everything — rain, hail and wind.”

Albury kept its slim hopes of finals actions alive with a dominant display against Wangaratta Rovers.

The Tigers burst out of the blocks with a 13-7 first quarter that set the tone for the rest of the day.

Rovers, without the injured Stacey Emms, struggled to get the ball to their end, while Albury’s best Brigetta Hart repeatedly repelled attacks with intercepts and rebounds.

Coach Jenny Jones was full of admiration for the Tigers’ defence.

“Brigetta Hart’s defensive effort was fantastic but the beauty of that is the work that the girls are doing in front of her and that lets her get to those intercepts,” she said.

“Our defensive pressure was great today — 26 goals in 60 minutes is testament to that.”

Jones said the stand-ins for absent centre Justine Willis and the combination between Kiara McLean and Sarah Hooper were outstanding.

“Balancing up with Sarah and Kiara in goals has been the focus this week,” she said.

“Erika Butler and one of our development players Emma Ley played at centre and they did a great job.

“But we know we have to rely on other teams to knock off those above us and also need to keep winning and building our percentage — so that was a great start today.”

Corowa-Rutherglen retained its two-game lead over the Tigers by beating Wodonga Raiders, Lavington ended a three-game losing run against Myrtleford and Yarrawonga went top by rolling Wangaratta.