Shepparton’s Northern Country Women’s League premiership defence continues to roll along smoothly after the Bears defeated a spirited Nathalia outfit on Sunday.
Brad Smith’s charges were made to work hard for the four points, but eventually claimed an 8.10 (58) to 5.3 (33) victory against last year’s wooden-spooner.
‘‘We figured they would be much improved (from last year) and they certainly were,’’ Smith said.
‘‘Their midfield was bolstered by the likes of (Carlton-listed) Reni Hicks and Vanessa Ward, so we knew we needed to lift our intensity and improve our tackling and we did a really good job of that, especially in the midfield.’’
Shepparton captain Breanna Davison provided plenty of drive for her side off the half-back flank, while Emma Ley’s and Mim Cuthbert’s addition to the line-up this season has allowed Smith to swing the magnets around to great effect.
‘‘Bree was fantastic, and having Kaylah Brown and Sam Heron back in this week really strengthened our forward line,’’ Smith said.
‘‘Emma and Mim are new additions to our midfield this year and have helped us free up Ashlee Thorneycroft to play forward after winning our best-and-fairest on a wing last year — and that has already paid dividends.’’
Thorneycroft booted three goals for the Bears — with Heron (two) and Brown combining for the same amount between them — to steer the outfit towards success.
A huge clash looms after the Easter break for Shepparton, with the Bears tackling fellow undefeated side Echuca at Victoria Park.
‘‘Our sheer pressure and intensity allowed us to put a few goals on the board in the second half and secure the win, we really stuck at it for all four quarters,’’ Smith said.
‘‘We’ll need to bring the same level of intensity or better against Echuca, but it will be good to see where we’re at early in the season against one of the top sides.’’
Hicks was a clear best-on for the Purples, while Gemma Hawks, Kymberlee John and Rebekah Wenzke were also impressive.
Abby Favaro continued her great form this season for Nathalia with another two goals to take her tally to six from two games — enough to place her on top of the overall leaderboard for the competition.
●Echuca had a huge win to remain undefeated after two rounds, dominating Mooroopna throughout the contest.
The Murray Bombers piled on four, five, three and six goals respectively in each quarter to take home an 18.15 (123) to 2.1 (13) victory.
Jodie Lake (five goals), Desrae Atkinson (four) and Jessica Pitts (three) were damaging in attack for Echuca, with Hendrika Kirchhofer and Tiarna Steel also among the best performers.
Maebh Kehoe, Shadelle Hood, Kiara Cooper and Thamar Atkinson battled hard for the Cats.
●Rumbalara had a tight win against Benalla to open its account for the season, eventually reigning triumphant 8.5 (53) to 6.6 (42).
Klarindah Hudson (three goals), Belinda Baksh and Tammy-Lee Atkinson (both two) booted multiple majors for Rumba, while Brittany Button (two) provided the most attacking power for the Saints.
●Kerang was able to shake off Tatura on Sunday to jump into the top three on the table, kicking 9.5 (59) to 1.1 (7) in the victory.
Sharni Ferrari (four goals), Donal Fellows (three) and Tenay Fellows (two) hit the scoreboard for the Blues, with Remi Maher and Jayde Maney also impressive.
Kyia Samkakai snared a major for the Bulldogs, while Madelyn McNeill, Madison Kromek and Keilara Briggs all stood out through their efforts.