Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Netballers take centre court for game of the month

Echuca United will host Tongala for the WorkSafe game of the month - the first of its kind in the Murray Netball League.

GEORDIE COWAN July 5, 2014 3:02am

Tongala coach Dylan Nexhip and captain Alicia White are looking forward to Sunday's match against Echuca United captain Erin Hill and coach Tina Rankins.

Netball will take centre stage on Sunday when Echuca United hosts Murray Netball League ladder-leader Tongala.

A big day is planned for the WorkSafe game of the month, including the appearances of former Australian Diamonds and Melbourne Phoenix co-captains Sharelle McMahon and Eloise Southby-Halbish.

The pair will run a clinic with Echuca United and Tongala 11 and under netballers and, later in the day, will co-coach the A grade teams in the showcase game.

Echuca United Netball Club president Fiona Davis said the club was excited to host the MNL’s first game of the month since it was introduced to the Netball Victoria calendar in 2005.

‘‘I think it gives us an opportunity to showcase our netballers, who are having a very successful year across the board with our nine teams,’’ she said.

‘‘Hopefully being able to get this together with Tongala, it will showcase our netballers and give the public an opportunity to come along, especially as it is on a Sunday.

‘‘They’re both very competitive teams, so I think it’s a good opportunity for people to just come along and have a look.’’

The day includes lunch for guests from Campaspe Shire, the league, WorkSafe, Netball Victoria and supporters, while face painting and a jumping castle will be provided for children.

Davis said the club had been preparing for Sunday since early February, when Netball Victoria approached the club with three possible dates.

Having a general bye next week and playing another district club in Tongala made the date an easy choice, but she said a lot of co-ordination and preparation had been needed.

‘‘The club is very excited,’’ Davis said.

‘‘We’re excited about who it is bringing into the club, as in people from Netball Victoria and giving kids an opportunity to have some special people around.’’

Eagles A grade coach Tina Rankins said it was great for the club to host the day and hoped the community would get involved and support it as her side takes on the Blues.

‘‘It is a big game for us, taking on number one on the ladder, but we’ve got a good team and we’ve got confidence, so we’re going to try and bring out our best games,’’ she said.

‘‘It is a big test, but we’re working and training hard. We both start on zero and we’ll try and put our best game forward.’’

Tongala coach Dylan Nexhip said he expected there to be a great atmosphere throughout what would be ‘‘a really positive day for both our clubs and netball in general’’.

‘‘It is a great occasion, not just for the (senior) players, but all the juniors and the little kids especially with having so many junior teams and kids involved,’’ he said.

‘‘It will be good for them to meet (McMahon and Southby-Halbish) and stay around for the whole day and watch the showcase match, which should be a good contest and just be part of it all.’’

Tongala has had a superb start to the season, winning every game through the first cycle of matches.

‘‘We’re working well and playing well and we’ve just got to make sure we keep it going, keep the ball rolling,’’ Nexhip said.

Enjoying a two-game gap at the top of the ladder, Nexhip said the team’s aim for the rest of the season was to keep improving.

‘‘We’ve talked about it and the girls know they need to keep working harder and keep improving,’’ he said.

‘‘We’re not worrying about what else is happening, we’re just focusing on what we’re doing and keep improving week by week.’’

The Blues coach has high expectations of all his players and said a big pre-season had helped the lift their performance.

‘‘They can all run out a game in any position for 60 minutes, so I think that’s made a huge difference,’’ Nexhip said.

‘‘I think it’s superior to most teams and it just gives them that extra ability to play at a high intensity and be able to handle whatever, so that’s definitely worked in our favour.’’

Eagles coach Rankins said it was vital her players were on the top of their game on Sunday.

‘‘To beat the top team you need all seven players to play well, play their best,’’ she said.

‘‘If you have a missing link then it’s going to cost you ... so we need the whole team to play well if we’re going to get across for the win.

‘‘But we’re certainly not going to put it in the too hard basket.’’

Rankins said her sixth-placed team has had to make a few adjustments this year after attacker Bridgette Furphy has missed most of the season with a broken hand but the players had adapted well.

‘‘Erin Hill has gone from being a goaly into our mid-court, which has been a big adjustment, but she’s been playing beautifully,’’ the coach said.

‘‘Our attacking end has had to pretty much completely change.

‘‘That’s always difficult, but the girls have adapted really well.

‘‘We’ve played with the same attack line for a few games now so hopefully they have confidence in themselves to be able to score.

‘‘We just want to go out there and have some fun and put on a good show for the community.’’

The stand alone A grade match will start about 2.15pm, with the players introduced on court before that.

B badge umpires Brenda Stenning and Kylie Pearce will officiate the match.

After the game there will be a presentation and a player named best on court.

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