Now the heat is truly on

March 29, 2018

Kate Durling will face her former Shepparton United teammates in tomorrow's season-opener after swapping to the Bears over summer.

Elle Brooks will be an asset for Shepparton United coach Di Hanslow this season as the Demons try to go one better than they did last year.

Having no break after the season ends seems to be bandied about so often during summer training.

With clubs beginning pre-season training before Christmas and netball teams holding trials even earlier than normal, sides have been steady for a while.

That is teams in Goulburn Valley League who have their competition sorted and will not be altered by the four Picola Football Netball League clubs that need to be homed.

Despite the scorching hot days during January and February, it feels as if summer has passed in the blink of an eye and we will be back at Deakin tomorrow, still with fresh memories about the last visit for the final day in September.

But while fans and neutral supporters enjoyed the finals, not all biased on-lookers would have been able to bear standing around the netball courts to see Kyabram celebrate.

Kyabram perfected its season by securing back-to-back premierships, while the agonising memories live on for Shepparton United.

With just three goals the difference, Demons coach Di Hanslow was already pondering different decisions she could have made immediately after the final whistle.

Those moments have replayed in her head ever since, but she will finally be able to allay them when her team steps out on the court for a Good Friday blockbuster against Shepparton.

The two rivals are at the peak of their game and firmly in the premiership window.

Shepparton United nearly found out Kyabram in the semi-final, but lapsed the other way as the Bombers took control and piled on consecutive goals.

There should be no worries of exhaustion this season, as three players had to back up under-17 appearances with their best performance in A-grade.

Even after playing pivotal roles in the junior premiership Elle Brooks, Laura Cole and Olivia Kirby still had to be prepared to back up in the top tier grand final with anything possible in Hanslow’s plans.

Hanslow was keen to secure full use of those players and can now have them at her disposal in any form, without having to weigh up their playing load with juniors and seniors.

Brooks’ ability to jump into the goal circle as an agile goaler could be key throughout the season, should Jessie Barnes-Hill and Sarah Bohn need a chop out.

But the experienced pair worked beautifully together last season, with Barnes-Hill’s commitment to the team well respected by her teammates.

United stalwart Kate Durling played in the losing grand final, but tomorrow will line up against her old side after defecting to the Bears.

Surely there will be some odd emotions to be at the same court, but entering what used to be the opposition’s huddle at half-time.

Providing some experience to Tracey Brereton’s side, the Bears gain so much more with Ash Cann making a required return.

Ash Bradley provided plenty of spark for the Bears in goal defence last year, but was cruelly cut down by a knee injury in the first week of September.

Having given birth to twins, Cann’s class means she will not need much time to settle back into the swing of things.

While just the one match will be played tomorrow and already there is plenty to discuss, it indicates how close this season will be.

While tomorrow’s match will be sorting which home tenant could take to the Deakin Reserve courts late in September, Saturday’s match will reveal plenty about the season when Tatura and Echuca compete.

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