NEW Port Fairy coach Emma O’Keeffe says the Seagulls will use the Western Regional State League (WRSL) competition to fine-tune their recast side.
The Seagulls lost to reigning WRSL premier Camperdown Night in round one last night in Warrnambool, 43-30.
O’Keeffe, Sarah Hearn and Mandy Knee are the key changes at the Hampden league club for the 2013 season, which starts in April.
O’Keeffe said Port Fairy was confident it had assembled a strong line-up.
“It’s just about working on new combinations and that’s the best thing about this competition,” she said.
“We have seven to nine weeks to get the team right so it’s better than just rocking up round one.
“We play Portland and Hamilton first so they are two unknown sides so this will give us time to work on us and get our side right.”
O’Keeffe said the opening game, despite the result, was positive.
“I thought our fitness wasn’t too bad. We’ve obviously got a lot to work on but it’s just basic things,” she said.
“I think we’re going to have a great side and a good year. It is just basic things like our timing and steadying but it’s hard when you have a new group who don’t know each other.
“We were rushing trying to get down the court as quick as we could and that was when we were sort of making errors.”
O’Keeffe said she mixed the Seagulls’ line-up around as a way of learning more about each player’s game style and ability.
“The girls did really well for their first game. There was plenty of different combinations,” she said.
“Different goalers got thrown in, the defence got mixed up and so did the midcourt.
“Pretty much every quarter we came out with a different starting seven.”
Camperdown burst out of the blocks to an early lead, with damaging goal shooter Narelle Welsh proving a handful for O’Keeffe.
The Magpies were 7-2 before the Seagulls started to find a bit of continuity.
With one minute left in the first term, Port Fairy tied the scores at nine-all.
Welsh then converted two quick goals before Knee cut the margin to one goal at the first break, with Camperdown leading 11-10.
Port Fairy moved O’Keeffe to goal defence in the second term, with substitute Sarah Moroney moving to goal keeper on Welsh for the final three quarters.
“She’s (Moroney) a bit taller than me,” O’Keeffe said. “She’s really good because she can read the ball as it comes down the court.
“She is really athletic and has plenty of jump in her and at the end of the day that’s what we need because we are not going to be the tallest defenders in the competition.”
The second term was a close affair, with the Seagulls tying scores at 14-all.
Port Fairy couldn’t wrest the advantage however, with Camperdown leading 21-18 at half-time.
Camperdown accelerated away in the third term, building a 10-goal lead in six minutes.
Port Fairy was held goalless for the first seven minutes. The Magpies led 34-24 at the final change.
Knee tweaked a hamstring in the dying stages of the contest.
“It is probably the heat getting to everyone,” O’Keeffe said.
“We started pre-season on Tuesday and a few of the girls said they were a bit sore so the heat is probably bringing that out tonight.”