Caity Lobston was one of a host of BNC players to return after the first round, bolstering the side and delivering Whanau their first win after the break. Picture: Isaac McIntyre

After playing short-handed in the opening two weeks of the Greater Open Championship, BNC have chalked up their first win of the 2019 thanks to a host of reinforcements.

While star shooter Caity Lobston returned in the second round before the Easter break, the Whanau squad saw Leilani Soli, Tegan Sharman, and Leanne Grevenitz return. With that trio slotting into the defensive circle, BNC kept Maryville Tavern to just 25 goals over four quarters, while clocking up 47 of their own.

“Everyone had a good game, don’t get me wrong, but the change in our defensive end was so important,” BNC head coach Cherie Aoake-Puru said after the 22-goal victory.

“They were extremely strong, and all of those girls that were coming back in this week were those defensive reinforcements. Now that we have a couple of our defensive stars back, this is what we’re going to be looking at.

“We have a young mid court and attack, that changes the go forward for us. Each week we look to get one or two of our representative players back, and when they do come back we’re going to be extremely competitive.”

Victoria Aoake is one of the BNC stars that has Premier League commitments shorten her minutes in the Championship.

BNC are still awaiting the return of Australian Netball League superstar Dakota Thomas, who began her campaign with the NSW Waratahs last weekend. They also regularly see mid court leader Victoria Aoake hooked from selection due to her NSW Premier League commitments.

There’s all these elite netball commitments for them, and it does hurt the team a little to have them travelling, but that’s what we’re pushing for for these girls so we just have to accept it,” Aoake-Puru said.

“That’s what it’s all about for us, we want to see our girls heading to those state and national competitions, and we have nearly half the group that are in that position which is fantastic to see.

Obviously it means we have to juggle commitments for them because they have to balance the Newcastle competition as well as their elite teams, but we make the sacrifices because we want to see them getting to that level and excelling.”

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Considering some players were returning to the Championship for their first hard-court game of the season, and others were still ruled out of Whanau selection, Aoake-Puru believes the 47-22 win shows the squad’s power in 2019. If they can have their stars together for full games, they will be in reach of a title throughout the campaign.

“Everyone watching that really good game on the weekend and knowing that we don’t have all our players on the court at the moment,” she said.

“We dictated the match from the word ‘go’ on the very first centre, and everyone watching that game was just kind of reacting like “Wow”. To get a win like that without all our central figures means that we are definitely in it for the title this season, and it’s just about getting all our players on the court at the same time.”

Tara Andrews was a late inclusion for West 1, and her presence in the mid-court helped the defending champions to a 12-goal win over Souths. Picture: Isaac McIntyre

Also on the weekend, Souths were delivered their first loss of the season after West 1 struck back with a 53-41 victory in the grand final rematch, while Nova Queens Wharf defeated Junction Hotel 55-36.

Finally, Forsythes Business Advisors kept control of first place as the only undefeated side with an 85-18 onslaught against West 2. The ladies in blue led 42-12 at half time, and restricted their opponents to just a half dozen goals in the next two quarters.

TABLE: Forsythes 12; Nova, Souths, West 1 10, BNC, Maryville, Junction 8; West 2 6.