A City West Falcons comeback fell short after they ran out of legs late against Geelong Cougars in the first round of the Victorian Netball League championship division.
The Falcons got their season off to the worst possible start and were trailing by 10 goals at quarter-time.
Bringing on midcourter Molly Jovic made a difference and the young Falcons side was able to get back into the game.
After being 12 goals down the Falcons hit the lead by two goals, but in the end ran out of legs, losing 63-56.
Falcons coach Marg Lind said there was some positives with how the side responded, but with many of the group having not played at that level they couldn’t maintain their run to the end.
“We certainly had to chase all day,” she said.
“We were a bit hamstrung with only being able to play Molly Jovic for two quarters.
“We started with the younger line-up and it was a big risk. Once we brought Molly on it helped us out.
“Getting to two up from being 12 goals down was a big challenge. Richo [Nicole Richardson] and I say when you chase a deficit of 10 goals and then come back, you struggle at the end.”
Lind said there was plenty of positives for the group, which will only get better as the season goes on, with several of the playing group under 21.
Both shooters used, Jane Cook and Tahnysha Salanoa, are both under 21.
She said the loss came to a side she expects to play finals.
The Falcons hopes weren’t helped by Jovic limited to playing two quarters due to Australian Netball League commitments.
Falcons players make up a quarter of the Victorian Fury team in the ANL, so restrictions and missing players is something the Falcons will have to get used to.
Lind said it didn’t make sense to have the state’s best netball competition run alongside the two best competitions in Australia.
“As soon as we have an injury, we are in deep trouble,” Lind said.
“ANL training is on Wednesday night and that’s four players out and it affects every grade.
“We are aware of that and it’s why we decided to go the way we have.
“It’s impacted right through the club and we’re going to use this year to build with the younger players.”
It was a tough day all round for the Falcons with all three sides losing. The division 1 team lost to the Cougars, 59-53, while the under-19s lost 56-50. The Falcons don’t have long to recover, with round two against the Southern Saints on Wednesday night.