Debutante a proven Rigg-game player

June 19, 2017

Benalla's senior netball coach Dylan Nexhip said Saturday's win against league contender Shepparton United was just what the Saints needed to define their season.

Benalla has thrown its name in the mix to be regarded as a Goulburn Valley League contender alongside Kyabram and Shepparton United.

The Saints prevailed against the Demons 50-45 to start rebuilding the momentum back they had last year.

After not being able to replicate the form of last season, coach Dylan Nexhip said the win against one of the top sides in the competition was what his side needed.

‘‘We’ve been very scrappy and lucky to win games and I said that to the team that we need a win to make our season or define our season and get it going and this was our one,’’ he said.

Even more impressive was the fact Benalla was victorious without A-grade shooters Martine Rodger and Grace Thomas.

But Nexhip found a gem in under-17 goaler Kelsey Rigg, who caused trouble for United’s experienced defenders in her debut.

‘‘It was her first A-grade game, she shot 39 goals from 45 attempts, she was great,’’ Nexhip said.

‘‘She’s quite tall, she’s probably about (185cm) and was given three different opponents, but they had no answers.

‘‘Hannah Austin was playing goal attack and she played one of her better games and took a leadership role with Kelsey behind her.’’

After being a goal behind at quarter-time, the second quarter was where the Saints started to produce some of their best netball.

Keeping a normally indestructible Demons attack to just six goals for the term, Benalla pushed ahead to hold sway of the game heading into the main break.

Captain Tylah Marchbank is a frontrunner for the Saints’ best-and-fairest after starring in the first half of the year and again held her own after being given the job on United goal attack Jessie Barnes-Hill.

‘‘Tylah Marchbank was great and really took her out of the game and frustrated her (Barnes-Hill) and Grace Amarant did a great job through the centre for us too,’’ Nexhip said.

While Benalla pushed the lead out to as much as nine in the final quarter, they ended the game five goals ahead as Demons coach Di Hanslow threw everything at the Saints.

Throwing shooter Sarah Bohn into goal keeper, United captain Kirsty Hommes said the move helped the side regain some control of the match.

‘‘Sarah went into goal keeper and I thought she’d (Di Hanslow) gone loopy, but it really worked and potentially if we started the way we finished we would have done a lot better,’’ she said.

With the loss just the Demons’ second this season, Hommes said it may help the side in the long run.

‘‘We’ll look at it and see what we can build off it, it’s a loss that we needed to have. If we didn’t have it we wouldn’t see a lot of the things we need to work on,’’ she said.

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