Wodonga on the hunt for breakthrough win against Myrtleford

YOUNG LEADER: Jess Barton has taken on the captaincy of Wodonga's A-grade netball side this season at just 18 years of age.
YOUNG LEADER: Jess Barton has taken on the captaincy of Wodonga's A-grade netball side this season at just 18 years of age.

A young Wodonga outfit will look to notch its first win of the Ovens and Murray A-grade season when it heads to Myrtleford on Saturday.

The Saints’ only victory came a fortnight ago by the barest of marginas against Wodonga Raiders.

Bulldogs’ coach Shea Cunningham is confident her side can match up well against their nearest rivals and edge towards a breakthrough result.

“We’ve been competitive on the court, the scoreboard probably doesn’t reflect that just yet, but we’re hoping to turn that around in the second half of the season,” Cunningham said.

“I think we should be really competitive.

“We apply a lot of defensive pressure across the court and get a lot of turnovers, we’ve just got to make sure we treasure possession all the way down the court.”

Wodonga has shifted its attention to development this season with only two players over the age of 22 in the A-grade squad.

Jess Barton has taken on the captaincy at just 18, leading the group which is a combination of Tallangatta and Hume league talent, as well as a handful of Wodonga representative and Bulldogs’ under 16s players. 

“We identified the talent and the potential these kids have got and made the decision to let them come into an O and M environment and push themselves,” Cunningham said.

“With that you do have to expect tough results on the scoreboard, but we are improving and developing each and every week.

“We just need to make sure we’re converting on the scoreboard a bit more consistently than we have been.

“We’ve also got a really good core group of under 16 girls coming through at the moment, so once they get to the age to come up to the seniors, we think they will fit in really nicely.”

It’s not unfamiliar territory for Cunningham who has had plenty of experience coaching at both junior and senior level.

However, she admitted her focus has had to change somewhat.

“When you’re coming in, the initial focus has always been wins on the board, being really competitive and getting into finals,” she said.

“With such a young group you have to put that on the back-burner a bit.

“We know these kids are going to be amazing netballers, so how do we help them get there?”

Eleanor Keir goes out of the side this week with Emily Dwyer to fill the void in defence.