Tough start

April 11, 2018

Benalla Saints goal defence Chloe Hill leaps to block a Seymour shot in the Saints' first round loss on Saturday. Credit: Holly Morrison.

The Benalla Saints have a baptism of fire to start their season as the side plays two of the predicted top three teams, and the reigning premier.

Seymour, predicted to finish third, thumped a young Saints side at home on Saturday in a 26-53 scoreline.

And it doesn’t get any easier as Shepparton United, predicted to be runner-up, plays the Saints this weekend. Then it’s the turn of Kyabram, the reigning premier, to play Benalla.

Saints’ head coach Pip O’Donoghue, in her first game returning to the club, said it was a steep learning curve for her side.

‘‘Considering it was a hot day and a really tough match and it is a brand new team on the court, where none have played together before and they’re all quite young — taking all those into consideration — I’m quite pleased.

‘‘It’ll be a building process from here, but we have a platform to build on now,’’ she said.

O’Donoghue said she was pleased with the leaders on court, especially through the mid-court.

‘‘Kelsey Pallpratt and the girls through the centre, I was really pleased with. And in the third and fourth quarter we played well.

‘‘Remembering it’s the first match of the year, it was good to watch the girls after all the weeks of training to finally get out and see where they’re at,’’ she said.

The only remaining player from last year’s campaign is Grace Amarant. All of her team-mates last week were making their debut in A-grade.

‘‘All but one were on debut for A-grade ... A few others were in B-grade or under-17s from last year, but it’s a mix of players for sure.

‘‘They’re all good mates and that helps, I’m sure it won’t be long before we play well and click. There were many good passages of play on Saturday,’’ O’Donoghue said.

This weekend sees the Saints travel to Deakin Reserve where they will be met by a strong Shepparton United side.

‘‘It’ll be another tough round this week, but it’s good — it’s what you expect from a strong league like this.

‘‘It’ll be a good hit-out to play some tough teams, and certainly a good reality check for the younger girls in the side.’’

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