By Colin MacGillivray
LANCEFIELD netball coach Michelle Rix is overjoyed at the way her team is gelling after a hard-fought nine-goal loss to Riddell District A Grade ladder leader Riddell at the weekend.
The Tigers entered the game as huge underdogs after winning just two of their previous seven games, but battled hard to keep the Bombers within reach throughout the game, going down 49-40.
Rix said the Lancefield side was beginning to come together after a disrupted start the year and that further improvement was in store.
“We knew we weren’t going to get our nine girls together until last week, so this is like round two for us. We’ve only had our nine together two weeks in a row,” she said.
“At the start of the season we had weddings, we had operations, we had trips away, we had 21st birthdays, we had other things that were on. We knew we weren’t going to get stability until later on in the season.”
Despite the rocky start to the season, Rix said the players had quickly come together and were committed to improving with each match.
“We were ecstatic with the weekend’s outcome even though we didn’t have a win. A win for us is achieving the things that we set ourselves as goals, and we certainly hit every goal we set ourselves on the weekend,” she said.
“We had a practice match [before the season] against Riddell that was a complete blowout. They beat us by 30 goals or more, but it gave us a good insight to see what they were running defensively against us.
“It has been a bit of a focus for us to educate our girls to get around some of their defensive tactics.
“They set the bar for us and we have been trying to work to offset some of those things they were doing.”
Rix praised all nine Tigers but gave special mention to midcourt player Brianna De Haas, who was playing in a round commemorating her younger sister Lily, who died four years ago.
“There was a lot of emotion going into the game, and it was great to see the girls step up and channel that into the game,” Rix said.
“For Brianna to put that into play and use it as a superpower was amazing.”
Goal keeper Amanda Bruce also earned plaudits for her defensive effort on Riddell goal shooter Tara O’Grady, holding her to her lowest goal total of the season with 28.
At the other end of the court, Jordan Furness continued her outstanding season with 32 goals on just 35 attempts.
“Every one of the girls walked away completely buzzing from the weekend because they all had their tasks as individuals and tasks as a team, and they knew they did what they set out to do,” Rix said.
“That’s a good feeling as a team when everyone has got your back and you’re working towards the same thing.
“I’ve coached a lot of teams, but this is the first team I’ve had where nine girls are just trying so hard to achieve the team’s goals. It’s really rewarding for everyone.”
Wallan suffered its third successive loss on Saturday against Woodend-Hesket, slipping out of the top four with the 53-41 defeat.
Gemma Grimmond worked hard at wing attack and centre, while goal attack Tahnysha Salanoa made all 12 of her goal attempts, but the Hawks rode the momentum of a 16-7 second quarter to victory.
Romsey was on the wrong end of a 74-28 loss to Diggers Rest, cementing the winless Redbacks’ place at the foot of the ladder.
The Redbacks have their best chance at a win so far this season when they host the 1-7 Melton Centrals on Saturday, while Wallan will welcome Lancefield to Greenhill Reserve.