By Matt Fotia
Olinda Ferny Creek’s A Grade netball premiership defence has gotten off to the perfect start, with the Bloods sitting atop the ladder with an unblemished record – along with this weekends challenger Beaconsfield.
Olinda Ferny Creek defeated Belgrave in the 2018 Yarra Ranges Division One A Grade Grand Final to make it three A Grade premierships in four years and were expected to be around the mark again by many in 2019.
The new competition meant expectations were hard to set and many were wary of looking to far ahead considering the South East’s strong junior netball pathway. Olinda Ferny Creek were no different, which is why coach Tim Smith made sure his side focused on what they were doing.
“We just focus on controlling on what we can control and delivering better – we set some high targets for the players individually and I believe we are a better team than last year.”
Smith is well versed with netball around Victoria as the Ariels VNL Director and despite having never seen Beaconsfield (as a collective unit) play in the flesh, he does have some intel on the Eagles line up.
“I know Beaconsfield have some very nice players in Bianca (Sanzaro) and Rylee (Nelson) as well as Ash Gill who is a very experienced player and has played VNL before – we’re expecting a really tough contest on Saturday.”
So far this season Smith has noticed that there are two different brands of netball being played, much like on the football field. Sides like Olinda are operating as they do in the Suncorp Super Netball League, with a tall Goal Shooter who ‘posts’ close to the goal ring and combines with more mobile ‘sweeping’ Goal Attack.
Smith has found that the South East sides have gone with a different option.
“Teams we’ve played so far haven’t had that tall focus point and have had to rely on a rotating goal circle,”
“Narre Warren’s Chloe Phillips is the closest we’ve come to facing that tall focal point – we work really hard on our diversity of play both in attack and defence to allow us to combat both brands of netball.”
Smith is also keen to make sure that his side don’t change their style of play too much to negate the opposition, preferring to make the opposition react to the way Olinda play. He is also hoping for some beautiful weather for the top of the table clash.
“We know that they’ll have plenty of support, we’ve found the South East clubs have plenty of loyal supporters who travel well and hopefully the suns out because it doesn’t come out to much at Olinda,” joked the premiership coach.
“We’re definitely looking forward to it.”