The Saints could not claw back Mooroopna’s six-point half-time lead in Saturday’s season-opening netball match.
Mooroopna defeated Benalla 42-33 at Mooroopna Recreational Reserve on Saturday in a tight match that only blew out in the final quarter.
Saints head coach Dylan Nexhip said if he had not asked his players to play aggressively and ‘‘rush’’ the ball down the court in the final quarter, the scoreline could have been closer — but he felt they had to take a chance.
‘‘It was tight all game and they got a buffer of three, which we just couldn’t manage to get back from,’’ Nexhip said.
‘‘And in the end we tried to rush it and get back into the game in the final quarter. If we didn’t change our tactic and try to rush it, it probably would’ve stayed close.’’
Mooroopna got off to a strong start, leading Benalla 11-8 at quarter time. They extended that lead by half time to 23-17.
After the half-time break the Saints outscored Mooroopna 10 points to nine in the third quarter. But the damage was done and in the final quarter the home side pulled away to win by nine points.
Benalla’s best players on court were Bridget Hill, Grace Amarant and Ash Feehan.
This weekend the Saints will look to bounce back against an in form Echuca side. Echuca put 60 points on Euroa in their season opener and sit second on the Goulburn Valley Netball League ladder.
Nexhip said Echuca would provide a stern test for his side and the team was looking to get ‘‘the monkey off their back’’ and win their first match for the year.
In other Saints matches, the B-grade game saw a young Saints side overcome Mooroopna 42-28 in a solid start to the season.
Three players from last year’s under-17s setup made debuts for the Saints.
Tight defence through the mid court allowed many intercepts to be taken as the Saints swept away the home side.
Best players were Mikayla Lessing, Hayley Martinello and Chloe Hill.
In the B-reserve Mooroopna defeated Benalla 53-47 in a tight match where the away side stuck with Mooroopna for most of the game.
After a rushed first half, the team slowed the play down, however, the Saints went down to a strong side.
Best players for the Saints were Sarah Osborne, Kathy Williams and Elise Amarant.
And in the under-17s Benalla defeated Mooroopna 50-40 with only two of last season’s players remaining in the side.
The young Saints played well as Mooroopna stepped up its game and forced Benalla to work more effectively. Benalla’s best players were Bridget Seiter, Kelsey Rigg and Tubby Robinson.