By Justin Flynn
Despite a two-goal loss to powerhouse Torquay on Good Friday, Ocean Grove netball coach Nikki Cooke was pleased with the club’s A Grade performance.
Torquay won a high-class encounter at Spring Creek Reserve, but both sides showed enough to suggest they are finals contenders.
“Both sides had a few players out due to Easter and other circumstances,” Cooke said.
“We knew it would be a strong, tough game, but we were focusing on playing our own game after nearly two years off.”
Cooke said one of the major positives was that the side fought back late in the match.
Claudia Britt started in A Grade and Anna Smith is in the squad, showing that Grove’s youth has started to progress from juniors through the senior ranks.
“It’s a great opportunity for these girls to step up and show what they have been working on during their junior years,” Cooke said.
“It’s great that we can continue to do that, foster the talent and grow the club from the bottom up.”
Friday’s warm conditions made things tough for all teams, after COVID-19 wiped out the entire 2020 season.
“There is plenty of work to do across our whole game,” Cooke said.
“But it’s been nearly two years since people have played. There are some transition work and centre work plays we need to work on.
“But the positive is that the girls are a united group.”
Ocean Grove won nine of 12 senior and junior games in round one on a successful day overall for the club.
“It was a great start to the season,” Cooke said.
“To win the majority of the games on the day is always outstanding.”
Ocean Grove faces Portarlington tomorrow at Shell Road. Cooke said all players were looking forward to playing at home after such a lengthy lay off.
“It was a little bit surreal on the weekend being able to play netball,” she said.
“To be able to play at home at Shell Road after all that time, I think everyone is looking forward to it.”
Round 1 results
A Grade: Ocean Grove 31 lost to Torquay 33
B Grade: Ocean Grove 36 def Torquay 26
C Grade: Ocean Grove 32 def Torquay 22
D Grade: Ocean Grove 23 def Torquay 13. Best: Michaela Giblin, Kellie Morrish, Zarly Smith.
E Grade: Ocean Grove 16 lost to Torquay 40
19/U: Ocean Grove 30 def Torquay 14. Best: Grace Hamilton, Abbey Stanic.
17/U Section 1: Ocean Grove 23 def Torquay 22
17/U Section 2: Ocean Grove 29 def Torquay 25
15/U Section 1: Ocean Grove 21 lost to Torquay 23
15/U Section 2: Ocean Grove 31 def Torquay 14
13/U Section 1: Ocean Grove 27 def Torquay 13. Best: Adele Mills
13/U Section 2: Ocean Grove 16 def Torquay 3