Goulburn Valley League’s open side gained cohesion too late in its interleague match, contending with a towering Ovens and Murray side.
Not only did Ovens and Murray have height in the circle, but also talls across the midcourt positions.
The predicted starting seven took the court in the first quarter at Wodonga with Kyabram stars Ash Mangan and Lauren Pryde in defence as well as Belinda Lees and Elle Groves bookending the court.
With reigning Wellman Family medallist Steph Vick stepping into centre, the GV started the game with a goal as Groves sank a shot from long range.
On court it was obvious that the trio worked together at club level, with Vick anticipating where her shooters would be, not easy given the talent of the Ovens and Murray defenders.
In a game where defenders shone, Mangan was named best-on-court for the GV as Ovens and Murray goal keeper Hannah Symes took honours for her side.
Symes kept Groves to 16 goals for the day, as the Kyabram shooter top-scored for the GV, while the Ovens and Murray defenders heaped the pressure on the attacking end.
Across the court Ovens and Murray was strong as pacey Kara Dawes contended with a tall wing defence boasting a long reach that caused problems along the circle.
GV was down by just three goals at the first break when Jana Bruinier came in to replace Dawes at wing attack.
But while the GV was quick, at times players led into the same space, needing more time to figure out each other’s game.
Jessie Barnes-Hill was a vocal member on the sidelines, brought into goal attack in the second half to provide height and strength as the GV trailed by seven at the main break.
She was just one of many changes as Lees moved into centre and Vick out to wing defence as coach Tracey Brereton tried to create some cohesion in the side.
The moves worked as the team’s movement down the court was a lot more sophisticated and the attacking end began to make inroads.
‘‘I just think there were some combinations that just weren’t happening, so I needed to change a few things and Jess offered us a bit of aggression and a taller body down there for us, (but) I still think that we didn’t play to our strengths that well,’’ Brereton said.
‘‘That’s the great thing about playing a longer format is that you’ve got time to do those sort of things.’’
‘‘I thought our defenders couldn’t do any better, I thought they were fantastic, it was our transition stuff that needs a bit of work.’’
At times during the third quarter the side strung together some solid plays and gathered momentum to only trail by four goals heading into the final break.
But in a demanding match, Ovens and Murray capitalised on turnovers in the GV’s attacking end to win by seven goals.
Saturday’s match served as a warm-up to next month’s Association Championships, where the GV will challenge a host of leagues across the state to try to snare the number one ranking.
Goulburn Valley League’s under-17 side made not one, but two huge comebacks during Saturday’s extra-time thriller against Ovens and Murray.
The game was forced into extra time at Wodonga after scores were locked at 44 at the end of regulation.
With a one-goal buffer when the umpire blew the whistle to signify the end of the match, GV coach Jacinta Todd was proud of her players’ resilience.
‘‘The heart was racing, it was a great win by the girls,’’ she said.
‘‘The one thing I love about players is if they just keep fighting and keep persevering as we kept telling them the results can fall their way, they just never dropped their heads and knew they could always be in it — and that’s what they did.’’
The GV did not get off to the best of starts, falling eight goals behind in the first quarter.
But positional changes made in the second quarter started to bring the GV some momentum as they gradually chipped away at the buffer.
Elle Brookes came onto the court and made a spectacular entry into the goal shooter position.
She nailed 12 goals from 13 attempts in a phenomenal effort that helped turn the eight-goal deficit at quarter-time into a two-goal lead at half-time.
Shepparton United’s Brookes continued her strong work in goals teaming with Sarah Ingram and Claudia Mawson, who rotated through the goal attack position.
The youngest member of the side, Brookes, 14, was not worried about playing against older opponents, claiming the GV’s player of the match award.
The Demon was forced to contend with some tight Ovens and Murray defence, but the GV’s cross-court pressure was its strength.
Erin Scott, Grace Egan and Dakoda Emery were among the midcourters who ensured circle defenders had time to set up structures as they slowed their opposition’s movement down the court.
But Ovens and Murray matched its opposition for pressure, doubling the GV’s score in the third term to create a six-goal lead heading into the final quarter.
It certainly was not end-to-end netball with centre pass breaks frequent, but the GV scored nine of the last 12 goals to ensure the game was sent to extra time.
Todd implored the players to push through their fatigue and ensure the hard work to draw the game was not in vain.
‘‘I just said there’s another 15 minutes and you’ve just played an hour, you’ve just got to go out there and have another crack, the game is in your hands and you’ve got to take it on from there,’’ Todd said.
Following a steal from goal keeper Bridget Byrne, the GV secured the first goal in the added time, going two up following a centre pass conversion.
But Ovens and Murray gained momentum and goaled three times in a row before the GV broke the final centre of the first period to lead by a goal.
The GV’s determination was in full display in the final period of the match as it cleaned up any mistakes.
A missed goal became a rebound for Ovens and Murray before the GV caused a held ball call in their attacking third, taking back possession to raucous cheers from the crowd.
With the scoreline 56-55 in GV’s favour at the end of the match, it completed a superb fighting display to record a deserved victory.