THE south-west netball community last night united to honour the life of popular Port Fairy talent Rebekah Moroney.
Players from the six Western Region State League open teams observed a minute’s silence before their matches in memory of Moroney, who died on Sunday night, aged 20.
The six 17 and under teams in action did likewise as the 2014 state league competition got off to an emotionally-charged beginning.
When the action at the Arc got under way, a mix-and-match Warrnambool City outfit proved its credentials with a 38-36 win over Hampden Green on the show court.
Defenders reigned supreme, particularly in the first half, with City gun Jordyn Billings and her Green counterpart Emily Batt shading their direct opponents.
Their influence was such that the opening six minutes of the second quarter saw just five goals dropped, with Green taking a 20-16 lead into half-time.
But the tide turned during a match-defining third quarter after City coach Rhiannon Cuomo rang in the changes.
Cuomo shifted Melissa Burt to goal keeper in place of Genevieve O’Connor and shifted Liz Byrne from wing attack to centre.
The result was a 13-5 blitz, which gave City a four-goal break heading into the last term.
Green levelled at 31-all with eight minutes and 30 seconds on the clock, but City would not be denied. Leah Kermeen and Katie Burt netted four times in a row to give their side breathing space. Cuomo said she was ecstatic with the performance from her side, which came together in December and had enjoyed just one training session.
“I think for a team that’s just come together and playing against a really tough opponent, I was really happy they pulled through,” she said.
“They had a lull in the second quarter but they all lifted in the third quarter.”
Cuomo praised the efforts of Byrne, who she said had a calming influence in the centre of the court.
She credited Melissa Burt, who curtailed Green shooter Rachel Dobson in the second half after Dobson led the attack line in the first half.
Katie Burt, who was misfiring early but found her range the longer the match went on, and Billings, who hauled in intercept after intercept, were also instrumental.
“I think the changes had a lot to do with the result. Not that the players who were on the court were doing a bad job, but it gave us a new feeling,” Cuomo said.
In other matches, Hampden White proved it will again be a force by beating Colac and District 50-25.
Warrnambool and District ensured a tough debut for Hamilton Night, winning 55-44.
In the 17 and under grade, Warrnambool City kicked off its campaign with a big win over Hampden White, 54-22.
Camperdown Night was also a convincing victor, beating Warrnambool and District 48-22.
Hampden Green had to labour for its points, ultimately shooting to a 37-27 triumph over Colac and District.