Avenel continues to defy the odds to produce scintillating netball, despite the absence of some its key personnel.
Laura Mundy is the latest casualty for the Swans, with scans last week confirming the defender’s season is over thanks to a knee injury.
Mundy joins her sister Kate Bishop, coach Tegan Hanson and goaler Kathryn Hard on the sidelines — with only Bishop expected to return before the end of the year.
Despite being undermanned, the Swans proved far too good for Merrigum in the cyclonic conditions on Saturday.
It was a relatively even first half, but the Swans pulled away for a convincing 48-34 victory.
‘‘With Laura missing this week, we had to do some shuffling around defensively and we had a few players playing out of position, and I think that took a quarter or so to adjust,’’ Hanson said.
‘‘In the first half they were matching us for defensive pressure and they got a few turnovers from us, but we pulled away a bit in the second half which was pleasing.’’
Niki Lord returned to the fold this week to save Avenel’s injury-riddled goaling stocks, after having her baby daughter last month.
Avenel has been averaging less than 30 goals a game for the past month, including a poor 24-goal effort against rival Nagambie, but the Swans’ goaling woes were forgotten on Saturday with close to 50 goals going through the ring.
Lord, who was best on court in the Swans’ premiership last year, was pivotal to that improvement on the weekend, and combined seamlessly with Tegan Sidebottom in the ring — before the latter rolled her ankle and was forced to watch the rest of the match from the bench.
Jess Hogan, who has found herself in goals a number of times since Hard and Bishop succumbed to injury, again stepped in to the ring and was equally as impressive.
‘‘That (the score) was probably one of the highlights,’’ Hanson said.
‘‘We’ve been having low-scoring games where we haven’t scored more than 30 goals, but we got the score back up to where we want it to be so that was really promising for the girls.
‘‘Niki Lord slotted straight back in nicely and really gave us that height in the goaling circle that we’ve missed since Kate got injured. It was good to see her come back and have a solid hit out.’’
Nat Fletcher was another to impress Hanson, who said the nimble midcourter was impressive in a new role in defence.
‘‘Nat dropped back in to wing-defence and goal-defence and she did a fantastic job, particularly in wing-defence,’’ Hanson said.
‘‘Her ability to read the play coming down the court was fantastic, and she got the most turnovers I’ve seen her get all season, she had the ball on a string.
‘‘She gave us a lot of momentum coming out of defence and her talk in goal-defence was really good with Sarah (Brock).’’
Avenel faces Violet Town this week, a side knocking on the door of finals.
Our first icy-cold game with blizzard-like conditions saw the team adapt quickly and jump out of the blocks with a seven-goal lead at the first change.
The game was another solid team effort which saw effective ball control, and our ability to put defensive pressure on the opposition continues to be one of our strengths.
Again the team stepped it up in the last quarter, outscoring the opposition 15-5 which resulted in an excellent win against a quality side.
Awards went to Bec for the many intercepts in the midcourt, the other to a Sarah for her direction and accuracy under the ring.
Score: Merrigum 24 lt Avenel 48
The C-grade girls had a tough match against a strong Merrigum side, and went down 33-47.
After a slow start, the Swans picked up and out-shot Merrigum in the second.
The defence worked overtime for the Swans but were up against an accurate Merrigum goaler.
Big thanks to Sophie, Kate and Maggie from the under-17s for helping out.
We started off great in the first quarter, just getting in front of Merrigum, but we slowly went down in the end.
This week’s awards went to defender Kate Tozer and shooter Maggie McDonald.
Kate played an excellent game and got several intercepts and turnovers throughout the four quarters.
Maggie was on target after coming back from holidays and didn’t seem to miss many when we had the ball.
This week we played Merrigum in the wet and cold conditions and unfortunately we didn’t came away with a win as we would have liked, but that’s okay because the team never gave up and kept trying.
This week’s awards went to Stephanie Calderwood and Stella Gordon.
Stephanie worked well in defence and got several turnovers alongside Stella in the midcourt, who moved around and used her voice just like the coaches asked.
Good job team, keep going.
— Lower grade reports
supplied by Avenel FNC