Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Benalla beats up Murray Bombers

In a physical match, Benalla was too strong for the Murray Bombers in the Goulburn Valley Netball League on Saturday.

GEORDIE COWAN May 6, 2014 3:04am

Echuca's Maree Gray

Echuca stumbled to its first defeat of the Goulburn Valley Netball League season in what coach Gina Pearson described as a ‘‘very physical game’’ at home against Benalla on Saturday.

The Murray Bombers fought back in the last quarter to reduce the final margin, but ultimately lost 46-41.

The Saints started well to score the first four goals of the game and took a 13-8 lead into the first break.

The home side improved in the second quarter but still trailed by seven goals and the visitors again extended their lead in the third term.

Echuca slotted 14 goals in the last quarter after it made some changes, with the five-goal loss leaving the team in second spot.

Pearson said it was not a highly-skilled contest due to the physical nature of the match.

‘‘I probably haven’t seen one like this for a couple of years,’’ she said.

‘‘It was very physical, with lots of contact and it was very stop-start.

‘‘Other than that I thought their goalers were very accurate and that was a big difference for us.’’

Pearson thought her defenders played well, but said it did not faze the Saints’ attackers, who shot well.

‘‘We didn’t have (usual defender) Ange Slattery but Maree Gray did a great job on their tall goal shooter,’’ she said.

‘‘She was probably giving away five inches, but still did a lot of work and her and Charlotte Long took every opportunity they had.’’

The coach said her Benalla counterpart Kate Symes ‘‘belted’’ Holly Butler for most of the game and then did the same when she moved to centre.

Changes to the team saw the goaling end struggle on Saturday, with quite a low shooting percentage and it was only when changes were made and Emma Grant came on that the team improved.

Grant, who plays in B grade, played in goal attack and helped open up the attacking end.

‘‘As much as it’s disappointing to lose, it’s disappointing because of the style (of loss),’’ Pearson said.

‘‘The physicality affected the skill the game could’ve been played at...but we have to be able to adapt to that and really try and get back into our own play.

‘‘It is something that we’ll address.’’

Echuca will play Shepparton United after the bye, which Pearson looks forward to as a ‘‘fast-moving and highly-skilled’’ game.

Geordie Cowan

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