Hunter have put the pains of the past two rounds behind them as they rolled over Randwick in a 52-39 victory to set up a potential second-round resurgence in the Netball NSW Metro League first division.
After claiming their first win of the season in a nailbiting 44-43 win over Baulkham Hills three rounds ago, the young Hunter squad appeared to have turned a corner in their first season in the Sydney league. It was just that final bullet point in their victories that eluded them.
In Round 8, Hunter were leading Hills District by 14 goals heading into the final quarter, before empty tanks and the physical nature of the league dragged the youngsters down to a 52-51 loss.
Similar struggles awaited the following round, as Hunter’s 10-goal advantage over sixth-placed St George drained away ahead of the final siren. When the dust cleared, the northern team had fallen to a 52-49 loss.
Third time’s the charm for the squad, however, as they smashed through cellar dwellers Randwick on Thursday evening. After letting two precious wins slip through their fingers, the team knew they weren’t going to let it happen a third time.
“The girls had a really good game, we’ve finally clicked as a team that can balance sixty minutes of tough, physical netball,” coach Natarlia Bridges said.
“There was a lot of disappointment in the squad after the last two rounds because we had those in our hands and ended up losing. We just didn’t have the consistency to keep the results, and the girls didn’t play sixty minutes of netball.”
A rotational system within the squad has been set in place by Hunter’s backroom staff to “maintain workload” throughout the game. Since the young squad has debuted in the Metro League this season, they’ve already become accustomed to the shoulder-to-shoulder challenges the Sydney teams have produced every week.
“We’ve been trying new things with swapping players in and out to manage workloads, but the girls have also just settled into the new way that netball is played,” Bridges explained.
“The game is getting more physical, it’s not how it used to be, so the girls had come from the Newcastle grades where the game is all about keeping yourself composed and consistent. Now they’re managing the tough nature of the league.”
Despite winning just two of their opening ten fixtures, Bridges believes the squad’s recent ‘click’ moment means they are well positioned now to contest every single battle they face in the final eight rounds of the Metro League.
“I’m so proud of the girls, they’ve been pretty disappointed with the last two games and how they ended,” Bridges said. “Our main focus in the games has been making sure we treat every 15-minute period like it’s a full game within itself.
Read more recent news
- Returning centre star leads Wests to storming victory over Souths
- Duff, Van Zeeland lead Blacks into mid-season roll with Easts-University win
- Law, Young set to join CRL Newcastle teammates in Roosters 2019 NRLW squad
“We’ve also been focusing on the whole season with the girls as well. The message has been that it’s okay to lose, we knew what we were facing coming into the league, and we just learn from every win and loss to make sure that we keep getting better.
“Teams all over the league have been saying “Hey you’ve got a great team here,” and that’s boosted the girls’ confidence so much. The girls are here to win, and the improvement has already been out of sight from the start of the season to now.”
Hunter’s first division side next faces Manly on Thursday evening. Their upcoming opponents are undefeated thus far in the league with a perfect 10-0 record.
Hunter Netball has also been finding recent success in the Metro League fourth division. The squad has won three of their past five games to move into seventh place, and now lie just three wins off fifth place.
The second team defeated Blacktown City 55-42 to kick-start their run of form. They have also beaten Sutherland Shire 68-60 and Inner Western Suburbs 55-47. The squad most recently fell in a tight 41-39 clash against St George.