Title defence goes to plan for the Sunbury Lions

Sunbury Lions midcourter Tarryn Munro. (Marco De Luca)

By Tara Murray

Undefeated after 15 rounds and well clear on top of the ladder, the Sunbury Lions are in the box seat to defend their Ballarat Netball League title.

The Lions have been tested on a few occasions this season, most recently against Darley in their most recent match, but Lions coach Adam Boldiston is more than happy with where the side is at.

He said a bye at the weekend had come at a perfect time.

“We’re pretty happy,” he said.

“Last round was a bit of a struggle against Darley as we only had three A-grade players.

“Without the experience of Ash Hardy and Tarryn Munro we struggled a little bit.

“Darley shot really well too. It was good experience to play under that pressure.”

For big parts of the season, the Lions have relied on their B-grade players to help the A-grade side left short by Victorian Netball League commitments, injuries and players being unavailable.

Suzi Johnson, Lauren Wishart, Michaela Colahan and Renee Hulls played all four quarters in the match against Darley after having played the B-grade game beforehand.

Amanda Cusack is another who has stepped up and played several A-grade matches.

Boldiston said having them play in high-pressure situations was beneficial for later in the season.

“They’ve been helping us out,” he said. “Our B-graders haven’t had a lot of tight match experience, so it’ll hold them in good stead for finals.”

Boldiston is hoping to have a full complement of players in the run home.

Kate Fletcher and Tarnee Adams are out with injuries, while Aila Pera has missed games, first with injury and now work.

Fletcher and Pera are yet to qualify for finals.

Boldiston said he hoped both would play enough games to qualify.

At this stage all five Lions netball sides are in the top six and on track to play finals.

The three top division sides are all in the top two, while the D-grade and under-19 sides are in the bottom part of the top six, but are a couple of games clear from their nearest rival.

“Last year we had four teams in the grand final … the focus was to have all five teams play finals this year and we’re on track,” Boldiston said.

The Lions this week face Bacchus Marsh, before playing Lake Wendouree and bottom side Melton in the run home. The Cobras and Lakers are both in the mix for finals spots.

Boldiston knows they can’t take any team lightly.

“Since we last played Bacchus Marsh, they’ve had a couple of losses,” he said. “I’m not sure if they were missing players. Against Lakers we played in horrible conditions, the worst I’ve coached in.

“It’ll be a different game this time, they are more talented then what they put out.”