PDNL: Tocumwal v Berrigan preview

By Alex Mitchell

Tocumwal and Berrigan finished last Picola District Netball League season at opposite ends of the ladder, but both will bring winning form to tomorrow’s Good Friday blockbuster.

The Bloods, who topped last year’s table before a tough grand final defeat, have started the new campaign in electric touch with two wins, but it is the Saints who have surprised most to start the season, knocking off Waaia last weekend to snap an 11-game losing streak.

In beating last season’s beaten preliminary finalist, the Saints’ goalers fired on all cylinders and benefited from strong midcourt play, with Emma-Jane Schifferle and Daneka Robinson standing out.

But the Bloods will present another challenge all together, the perennial title contender in good form last weekend seeing off Rennie 50-38.

Tocumwal coach Kylie Hicks said things were tracking well, but plenty of improvement was still possible in the early stages of the season.

‘‘It’s been a great start, the girls are really starting to jell and work as a team. There’s a couple of new players in after a couple of our seasoned players moved out and they’re jelling well,’’ she said.

‘‘The girls really had to work hard for the win (against Rennie), it was really hot and really important to conserve energy.

‘‘We utilised our new setups well that we’ve been working on, it all seemed to come together well and we pulled off the win.’’

Despite losing a trio of last season’s key players — Millie Ferguson, Jacq-Lyn Davis and Gracie Reid — the Bloods may be as strong as ever, with Sarah Quick and Molly Reid on fire last weekend.

The side has also been bolstered by the return of Abby Wilson (Blighty) and Piper Hicks (Shepparton) along with Sharrene Thompson stepping up from B-grade, coach Hicks stating their presence had brought plenty of movement to the midcourt.

Ahead of the Good Friday clash at Tocumwal, Hicks said her side would not take Berrigan lightly, particularly given it had just beaten a Waaia side many predicted would go deep again this season.

‘‘We’re a little bit unsure what to expect from Berrigan now they’ve beaten Waaia,’’ she said.

‘‘We thought Waaia would be a really tough side to beat this season, so we’re going in needing to play our best to win.’’

Berrigan netball president Bec Ware said the side was over the moon after the Bombers upset and would look to carry the form into Good Friday.

‘‘The girls were ecstatic, but there’s still room for improvement,’’ she said.

‘‘They were happy with the result, but they know this weekend will be a great challenge, but we think we’ve got the side to be competitive this season.

‘‘You can never write off Tocumwal, I don’t think we’ve ever beaten them on Good Friday, if at all, so it will be really interesting to see how the match plays out.’’