Souths Lions have returned to winning ways with a 60-22 win over their sister team Souths Pride in the Greater Open Championship.

Coming off a narrow defeat at the hands of BNC Whanau two weeks ago, and a bye round for the NSW State Championship, the Lions’ victory was crucial to remain in the hunt for the league’s top spot.

The weather took a turn for the worse as high, cold winds picked up at National Park, but the adverse conditions did little to slow the Lions’ dangerous shooting combination goal attack Katelyn Stansfield and shooter Brooke Fennings.

Despite the latest entry to Souths derby history in the top grade appearing heated on court, Lions captain Narelle Eather explained it’s one of the team’s favourite games on the Championship calendar, with “a lot of friends on either side”.

“We’re all really good friends so it’s sometimes hard to go on and play against people you train with, but our team is pretty good at stepping on the court and playing like a real game, then being friends again after,” she said.

Eather also believed the victory was key for two reasons – bouncing back from the round six defeat to BNC, and recovering from the representative weekend. She admitted there were concerns many of the women would be “a bit tired”.

“Sometimes you come back from the State Championships and you’re a bit tired,” she said. “We had a lot of girls at state, so we’re really happy that we were fresh on court. It didn’t really feel like we’d had the weekend off.”

After the narrow defeat in similar conditions two weeks ago, Eather believes a late-week team talk was a factor in the strong return outing for the championship hopefuls.

“We had a team talk last week, we put our heads together and now we’re back on track,” she said. “[After the loss] we wanted to come out and prove we’re back on track, and coming in strong for the end of the season – it’s important to do that after any loss.”

The win keeps the Lions just four points behind the defending champions West Leagues Balance No.1, while Pride remain on the bottom of the league standings with just 11 points.

Elsewhere on the weekend, BNC Whanau retained control of third place with a tight 33-27 win over West Leagues Balance No.2, dedicating the victory to the club’s late Mark Bramble.

As well as wearing black armbands across the grades on Saturday, BNC released balloons for Mr Bramble, who had been involved in netball at Newcastle for decades alongside a storied history coaching teams for the club.

As well as the club’s six-goal win over Wests No.2, nine of the thirteen teams under the BNC banner recorded victories on the commemorative day. A minutes silence was also dedicated to the club’s late “gentleman of the game”.

Finally, Wests No.1 continued their undefeated run with a 47-20 win over Nova Thunder, while Forsythes had a dominant second half (31 goals to 15) over Maryville Tavern Alize, moving into fourth place with their 53-26 win.

First published as: Lions come out on top in all-Souths challenge