Leaky defence costly for City West Falcons

Victoria Honner has been promoted to the championship team after impressing in division 1 last season. Picture Shawn Smits


City West Falcons have failed in their payback mission.

The Falcons went down 58-53 in the grand final rematch with Boroondara Express in the Victorian Netball League championship division season opener at the State Netball and Hockey Centre.

Falcons coach Marg Lind was unhappy with some decisions that went against her side at crucial moments and helped lead to a repeat of the defeat in last year’s season decider.

“There was a small patch in the game where I thought we got a couple of really bad calls and they got a five or six-goal advantage,” she said.

“We pretty much chased that for most of the game and with two minutes to go we got it down to two goals and we had a decision against us again.

“In saying that, we’ve still got a bit of work to do as a team.”

More specifically, City West needs to find a way to limit opposition scoring.

Last season, the Falcons defenders were at their stingy best, conceding a mere 41.33 goals per game, the second best in the competition.

The defensive end has undergone a total makeover this season, so there are bound to be teething problems.

The Falcons were also without promising young defender Jacqui Newton, who injured an ankle in the off season.

“We’ve lost our entire defence end,” Lind said. “There are new players in three positions. That’s presented some challenges … we’ve got to fast track them and make the best of a tough situation.”

With Newton on the sidelines, the Falcons sent out Maddy Balson, Steph Swann and Victoria Honner.

Balson, recruited from Boroondara, has been training with the Victoria Fury so will take time to familiarise herself with the Falcons’ game plans. Swann has not played top-level VNL for nearly five years and is better for the run, while Honner is raw, having come up from the division 1 team.

Despite having to rebuild on the fly, Lind is excited about her team’s potential.

“It’s certainly not time to panic,” she said. “We lost to a team that beat us in the grand final last year.

“The game was in our grasp, we’ve got an entirely new defence end and a new goaling entity in Jane Cook.

“As a club, we knew we had to rebuild at some point. It’s just a shame it’s the whole defensive end. It would’ve been easier if it was one goaler, one mid-court and one defender.”

The Falcons will return to the SNHC on April 20 to face ACU Sovereigns.