MUCH has been made of Dennington’s four pillars at either end of the netball court.
But flying under the radar has been another key factor in the Dogs’ rise to second on the Warrnambool and District league A grade ladder.
Smooth-moving utility Marlie Boyd is in the midst of a bumper campaign, building on her third-place finish in the 2013 best-and-fairest count.
The former Warrnambool shooter has been influential wherever coach Sue Fleming has wanted her, no more so than against Panmure last weekend.
The Dogs trailed 14-5 at quarter-time before Boyd moved from goal attack to centre, pushing Kelsey Perry to wing defence.
The changes had an immediate impact. Dennington restricted Panmure to two goals for the term, shot 12 itself and ran out a 38-30 winner.
The flag fancy boasts the tallest side in the competition, with Fleming, Kristy Bolden, Lani Keane and Katie Burt all capable goal-circle players.
Danielle McLeod will provide another option when she returns to the court. But Boyd, one of the smallest, is turning heads in her own right.
“Marlie has been really good. She’s steady every week. She doesn’t have a bad week and see see periods of brilliance in every game,” Fleming said.
“She’s just been very solid. The beauty of Marlie is she’s played in every third. She’s that utility that every coach wishes for and I’ve got the luxury to have.
“If we do have to make a change, it’s usually which tall is going to which end. Marlie is the one who has to gap fill where we’ve taken from.”
But from being a player who falls into place, Fleming said Boyd was the catalyst behind the revival against the Bulldogs.
“We weren’t getting it through the centre court. I just think we needed a little bit more run and carry through the centre court,” she said.
“Obviously bringing Marlie out to centre, that meant we were without a goalie so Lani swapped from defence to shooter and I went into defence with Kristy.”
Dennington meets Old Collegians in the A grade match of the round at Davidson Oval in what shapes as a battle for flag favouritism.
The Warriors are unbeaten while the Dogs have suffered just the one defeat, to Timboon Demons in round two.
But Fleming, a former teammate of Warriors goal attack Sophie Ballinger, said victory would represent little else than another step towards finals.
“I think what we’ve done really well is, as much as we’ve set our sights on finals for a start, we’re taking it slowly and we’re taking it week by week,” she said.
“What we want from Sunday is to make sure even if we lose, we have fought the good fight and used our plays and our game.
“It’s an opportunity to have a look at what they do and how they do it so next time we know what we need to change.”
In other matches today, Merrivale will start favourite to beat Nirranda, Panmure hosts Deakin University, Kolora-Noorat plays Russells Creek, South Rovers take on East Warrnambool and Allansford meets Timboon Demons.