Exciting Picola District Netball League season ahead

April 07, 2017

A-grade premier, Katandra: Duane Dudgeon (team manager), Maddi Owen,Rachael Ford, Kimmi Dudgeon, Bec Osmond, Georgia Nelson, (front) Amanda Gledhill, Bree Dudgeon, Bek Riordan, Shinea Sali.



2016 FINISH: SEVENTH (2–16) 

Dookie should be a lot more competitive on the court than last season. Coach Jodie Foster was buoyed by what she had been seeing across the summer. “Pre-season has been going exceptionally well. I’m very happy with how trials have gone and how much stronger the team is looking this season,” she said. “I’d really like to make finals and I think with what I’ve seen we can, but not knowing what else is out there, I don’t know.” A strong coup for United is the inclusion of Tallygaroopna defender Kayla Woodhouse. She will team up with Laura Henderson (nee Moon) who returns this season after having a baby. Foster is pleased with the height the pair will inject into her defensive set-up. Georgia Caruana and Alex Scoones have put in hours of effort over the off-season that has left Foster thrilled with the accuracy of their shots. Having only notched two wins last year, Foster has hopes her side can make finals as it aims to capitalise on a strong pre-season. 




Cassia Colbeck achieved the ultimate success with the Tigers, breaking their 20-year premiership drought in 2015. But at the end of last year she decided her four-year stint at the club would be over with the 50 km distance for the Shepparton-based coach a major concern. Colbeck has moved back to her former club Shepparton Swans, taking premiership teammate Ria Hodge with her. Katamatite narrowly missed out on making the finals last season, and new coach Kate Azzopardi is hoping this is something she can achieve. Azzopardi has most recently been playing in the Central Murray league and has brought across Jacquie Lodge. The coach said Lodge’s injection of pace in the midcourt would be a welcome inclusion to the club as Caitlin McNamara also returned. Katamatite has been playing Fast5 netball in Yarrawonga as a way to keep fit during the pre-season and Azzopardi said she hoped her team could form strong bonds this year and produce a more consistent season than last. 



2016 FINISH: PREMIER (19–1–0) 

How can a team improve on a near perfect season? The only minor blight in Katandra’s win-loss record was a draw in the final round of the home-and-away season against Waaia. But aside from that the Kats were the benchmark side, returning the team to the glory of its three-peat years from 2012 to 2014. Shinea Sali injected plenty of poise into the Katandra midcourt last year, with her influence resulting in her winning the league best-and-fairest award. But Sali has decided to return to play GV netball with Shepparton Swans this season. Towering shooter Rachael Ford will also no longer be a presence in the side’s attacking circle after taking up a spot in the KDNL with Murchison-Toolamba. Despite a couple of notable losses, the side should still remain one to beat as Bec Dudgeon continues to coach with sister Bree also in the mix. 




Along with Katandra, Katunga was a powerhouse in the competition last year. But despite this the Swans were dismissed from the finals series in straight sets as a host of players suffered injuries. But with a similar side returning this season, coach Aimee Sidebottom believes the Swans can go beyond their preliminary finals exit. “Obviously we’re aiming for the same, we just hope that we don’t have the run of bad luck of injuries like we did last year,” she said. “If we can build on what we did last year, we can take it one step further.” A severe injury to Kristy Eddy required a knee reconstruction, but she will continue to coach B-grade. Ccoming into the side is highly respected Katunga club member Rachael Howden. Howden took a break from playing netball to focus on achieving her A-grade netball umpiring badge, which she received last year. Howden takes her place in wing attack, where she will deliver to goaler Elise Newman, 18. Michelle Moon will compete down the opposite end of the court next to Rachelle Moon. 



2016 FINISH: EIGHTH (0–18) 

Paula Mifka enters her second year coaching the Grasshoppers and is pleased with how the side developed last year in a rebuilding season. Rennie has had some strong numbers attending training, with the amount of players over the pre-season gradually building. Mifka will continue to be focused on blooding juniors, but said the A-grade side should not be claiming another wooden spoon this season. “In the seniors this year we’ll be reasonably strong,” she said. “The A-grade side is going to be developing and trialing a lot of juniors, but we’re still working on a few A-grade players to bring some experience to the side.” Last year the side had an average age in its 20s, with Brylee McCarty a rising star after playing A-grade at age 13. She will return to the top tier side with Chelsea Beavis, 15, and Lisa Handreck, who form a solid defence. 



2016 FINISH: FOURTH (13–9) 

Almost all of last year’s A-grade grand final side has returned for another campaign at the Eagles. Bianca Kelly will stay at the club, but has passed on the coaching role to co-coaches Grace Pedretti and Stuart Hamilton. The pair will share duties as the side continues to form a joint A/B squad. Katandra B-grade premiership star Tegan Fairley has joined East and will strengthen the side’s defence. Morgan Chambers comes across from Mooroopna, while the side has snared Western Australian Abbey Suckling, who has moved into the area. With a competitive squad, Pedretti said she was eyeing off another grand final appearance. “We’re looking so promising in both A and B-grade and we’ve got such good talent with a lot of new girls, I’m so happy with it,” she said. 



2016 FINISH: FIFTH (9–10) 

The Bears secured an appearance in the finals under Debbie Hay, but were eliminated against Shepparton East. Tungamah players Felicity Irvine and Chelsea Marks will take the reins of the club this season as the side is buoyed by last year’s standings. “We were a bit light on numbers, so we did pretty well to get where we did. We gritted out a very good finals campaign,” Irvine said. “We’ve been getting good numbers (this year) which we sort of haven’t had in the past.” Adele Prescott was a revelation for the side last year, with her accurate goaling an asset to the A-grade side. Prescott was part of the Bears’ under-17s premiership side, but will make a permanent step up after polling votes in the Lukies Medal. Irvine is staying tight-lipped about some potential stars who she hopes will bring some X-factor to the Bears this season. 



2016 FINISH: THIRD (10–1–9) 

The Bombers will try to defeat their opposition with pace this year under new coach Nikki Foster. Nikki is the mother of rising star Milly, who impressed as a defender last year in the A-grade side. But Milly missed finals following a knee injury that required a reconstruction. Nikki said Milly was expected to return mid-season to a side that had not waved goodbye to any A-grade players from last year. While Blaise Mortimer has given up the coaching role, she will continue to take the court for the Bombers. Mortimer brought the side from a wooden spoon finish in 2015 to a finals appearance and a side that looked competitive against some of the best in the competition. Nikki is thrilled to have kept Mortimer at the club. “Blaise did an amazing job last year with the girls, all we’re doing is trying to build on what she achieved,” she said. 


Coach: BEC WARE 2016 


Berrigan is back in A-grade after having a spell last season. The club did not field a team in the top grade because of a lack of numbers. Bec Ware has been appointed coach of the Saints as they look to bring former players back to the club. Berrigan’s Arlena Pyle said the club was hoping of putting a competitive team out on the court with Ware in charge. 




Star shooter Molly Cochrane will lead Blighty as the club’s youngest ever A-grade coach. At just 21, Cochrane has been entrusted with the key position at the Redeyes as they look to build on a semi-final exit last season. “I’ve been around the club for ages so it’s great that they have the trust in me for the role,” Cochrane said. “I injured my knee last year and helped out Judy (Plattfuss) with coaching and enjoyed it. 



2016 FINISH: RUNNERS-UP (12–2–3) 

Deniliquin Rovers have gone with a trio of coaches as they look to end their premiership drought. Club stalwart Jemma Kerr has taken charge, with help from experienced pair Tim Van Lieshout and Grant Matthews. The Rovers have lost the last two grand finals to Tocumwal, but Matthews brings premiership credentials from Katandra and Echuca United, where he led the Eagles to the last two Murray Netball flags. 



2016 FINISH: FIFTH (6–9) 

After making the finals last season, how Jerilderie will go this year is unknown. The club was yet to appoint an A-grade coach at the time of writing, but the Demons have proud history in netball and will look to make a strong impact on the season. 



2016 FINISH: SIXTH (5–1–8) 

Leesa Hoopell enters her second year in charge of the Blues and is looking forward to putting into practice more detailed game plans. The A and B-grade sides have been bolstered by the addition of five players this season as Picola United aims to play finals having missed September action by finishing sixth in 2015 and 2016. A dominant midcourt should be one of Picola United’s strengths this season with Emma Greaves (Moama) and Pennie Langley (Girgarre) moving across from rival leagues. Having not lost any other A-grade players from last year, Hoopell said the side is looking to develop full occur cohesion. “I just think overall it’s a whole game plan and we need to implement everything down the court through defence to attack, we’ll probably work on the attack end a bit more. 



2016 FINISH: EIGHTH (1–1–12) 

It was a tough season for Mathoura in 2016, but there are better times to come for the Timbercutters. Kat Wippel, who was the club netball player of the year, has taken the reins as coach, but last year’s co-coach Jordy Pollock is sticking around to be an assistant. Mathoura will be looking to take confidence out of winning the last game of the season against Mathoura to avoid the wooden spoon. 



2016 FINISH: PREMIER (13–1–2) 

It was more premiership success for Tocumwal last season as it defeated Deniliquin Rovers again in the grand final. Kate Bird takes the reins of the two-time defending premiers, replacing co-coaches Millie Ferguson and Jacq Davis. With Bird in charge, there is no reason why the run of success Tocumwal has enjoyed over recent season can’t continue. 



2016 FINISH: THIRD (11–1–5) 

Strathmerton will be looking to pull off another top-four finish this season and remain competitive as always. Despite a slower start to the season with holidays and taking time away from the sport, they’ve still got a few cards up their sleeve. “We have a hard working A/B squad who are prepared to help and push each other as far as they can,” co-coaches Georgia Ryan and Amy Carter said. “All we hope to achieve this season is another successful year in which we all enjoy each other’s company and grow stronger as a united club.” 



2016 FINISH: EIGHTH (1–13) 

There’s exciting times ahead for the Yarroweyah Hoppers, newly appointed coach Amanda Lucas said. The team has started pre-season with consistent numbers and is looking forward to their second-round match against Deniliquin. “We have had many faces return this year with a couple of new players joining in and trailing well at grading and we are shaping up to have a solid senior squad,” Lucas said. “The Hoppers this year are hoping to present a united front as a club and support all players competing in both codes, right from our youngest through to our seasoned veterans. “There is a positive energy at the club and all members are looking forward to a competitive season.”

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