Slow start proves costly in netball interleague, despite brave WDFNL fightback

A FAST start paved the way for Colac and District to maintain its dominance over Warrnambool and District on the interleague netball stage.

Colac and District goal defence Sarah Higgins (left) puts pressure on a pass to Warrnambool and District goal attack Hayley Plozza.

Colac and District goal defence Sarah Higgins (left) puts pressure on a pass to Warrnambool and District goal attack Hayley Plozza.

The Nicole Mitchell-coached players needed just one quarter to set up a second-consecutive win in front of a healthy crowd at Central Reserve, Colac, on Saturday.

They rushed to a 17-7 lead by quarter-time and held the visitors at bay to win 51-45, despite losing the next three periods in a high-scoring affair.

The margin was as little as three in the final minutes. But Warrnambool and District could never get closer and was left to lament a lack of early composure.

Warrnambool and District coach Lisa Arundell conceded the hosts “caught us on the hop” from the first whistle.

“They were fast out of the blocks and their defensive pressure was really good.  We didn’t settle into the game nearly as well as they did,” Arundell said.

“That created that deficiency in the first quarter. Credit to my girls, we fought back, we won three quarters of the game and they only won one.

“But that first quarter was when the damage was done. In that last quarter we looked like we were going to come back and hit the front but it wasn’t to be.”

Arundell was pleased with how her side responded after quarter-time and without two first-choice defenders, Cloe Marr and Lisa Anders.

Anders never took to the court, while Marr went off injured at the start of the second quarter, forcing Kelly Mullen and Melissa Burt to combine in defence.

Other changes included Steph Townsend shifting from wing attack into the goal circle and Chantelle Moloney holding down centre for more than a half.

Mullen was Warrnambool and District’s best, along with midcourters Kelly Plozza and Meagan Forth. Hayley Plozza netted 23 goals.

Best-on-court honours went to Colac and District stalwart Narelle Frith, who started at wing defence and ran the centre after half-time.

Defenders Sarah Higgins,  a former Dennington netballer, and Nadine McNamara were also influential, while Mitchell led all scorers with 31 goals.

“It was fabulous to see the way the girls gelled together and got the job done,” Arundell said.

“To win three quarters and only lose one and lose the game, that’s disappointing.

“But they recognised the fact they dug deep after that first quarter and played well and almost got the win.”

Arundell believed the match and training sessions in the past fortnight had lifted interest in interleague netball among top players.

“They were all really happy to have played and represented the league. Quite a few girls mentioned they really enjoyed the experience,” she said.

“And the other thing is,  they were a great bunch of girls. I don’t think I’ve ever coached a bunch of girls that came together the way they did.”