ALLANSFORD coach Mel Harrop says it is too early to tell whether Old Collegians or Panmure hold sway in the race for the Warrnambool and District league netball flag.
The Warriors and Bulldogs — the 2013 grand finalists — are the only unbeaten sides after three rounds of the season and again loom as the front runners in 2014.
Both have beaten a new-look Allansford in the past fortnight, albeit not without a fight, leaving Harrop well positioned to compare their early-season efforts.
The new Cats coach was unsure which side deserved flag favouritism after three rounds but said there were noticeable differences in their brand of netball.
“I don’t know about who will have the better outcome at the end of the season. But they’re both opposite sides of the coin,” she said.
“Panmure are very physical and strong and that’s OK, we have to toughen up in netball a little bit and learn how to play strong netball.
“Collegians’ combination play, they have a smoother style of play. I wouldn’t pick either one of them yet, I think it’s too early to tell.”
Harrop rued Allansford leading all day but losing 32-28 to Old Collegians in a thriller at Allansford Recreation Reserve on Saturday.
The Cats rushed to an 11-7 lead by quarter-time and were still three goals up at the last break, before the Warriors came home with a 10-3 final term. Warriors goal keeper Jodie Maybery and centre Rachel Alderson were the catalysts of the surge.
Up until then, Cats shooter Steph Jamieson (21 goals) and midcourters Renae Meade and Stacy Rohan had helped put their side on the verge of an upset. “Most of (Old Collegians) have been playing together for at least last season, they all know how to dig deep as a team,” Harrop said.
“That’s something we need to learn from. We need to discover that within our team. ”
Harrop said there were several positives to emerge for Allansford, most notably its ball movement down the court. “People know where each other should be, they were passing to that space.”
Old Collegians coach Lisa Arundell said she was pleased her side could escape with the come-from-behind win.
“We were always in touch, the score never got blown out and we were always able to peg them back to one behind or level,” Arundell said.
“But we never hit the front until the last quarter. Once we did, my girls smelled victory and knew they could take it from there.”