Shepparton claimed the first victory of the new Goulburn Valley League season.
While a year ago Shepparton United enjoyed the spoils of a first round victory before going on to contest last year’s grand final, the Bears were comprehensive victors in the season opener on Friday night.
The Demons may have taken the early lead with a slim two-goal buffer at the first break, but once the dust settled the following two quarters belonged to Shepparton.
In an opening term shoot-out the Bears did not miss a goal, with Shepparton United goaling with similar accuracy.
The game took until the second quarter to open up as Shepparton put the stoppers on and United could manage just four goals for the term.
The Bears continued to convert their chances and added 15 goals, with Kim Commane her side’s best as Shepparton earned a reasonable buffer at the main break.
With Kate Durling taking the court in centre against her old side and Ash Cann returning to the fold, Shepparton coach Tracey Brereton said the experience would keep her side in good stead this year.
‘‘They’re very experienced netballers that can add up to three or four junior players and their experience was something that shone through,’’ she said.
With Cann slotting back into the goal defence position, it allows versatile star Laura Ryan more time to spend in the midcourt this year.
‘‘I think she’s probably starting to feel more comfortable in the midcourt and probably likes the free run through the middle,’’ Brereton said.
‘‘That’s the good thing with Laura and Kate, they really can play two or three different positions on the one day.’’
Shepparton had a sizeable 20-goal advantage heading into the final term, but only won by 10.
However, Brereton said she was confident of stopping any chance of a fadeout for rest of the season.
Demons coach Di Hanslow was excited about the opportunity to have teenagers be full-time players in the A-grade side and she did not shy away from handing them some tough asks.
Having made her A-grade debut in last year’s finals series, under-17 premiership player Olivia Kirby lined up against Commane.
In the search to replace Kara Dawes, who will miss this year due to having her first child, Olivia Hall was promoted from B-grade and United captain Kirsty Hommes was pleased with her performance.
‘‘Olivia Hall had great drive and great passes in the ring and really stood up and made us pay attention which was really good and a great start for us, she’ll be fundamental in that centre court,’’ she said.
‘‘Isobelle Bradford was dynamic (in wing defence) and was a huge pick up for us this year.’’
Although failing to lead after quarter-time, Hommes said her side had all the makings of a team that could do damage this season.
‘‘We’ve started off with real promise ahead of us, the Bears are older and just fine-tuning things, but we’ve got a lot of growth and maturity to come,’’ she said.
‘‘Big things can happen with young players in a season.’’