ECHUCA’S A grade netballers couldn’t stay with a fast-finishing Shepparton Bears side in Saturday’s Goulburn Valley League action, going down 44-55.
Fighting for a spot inside the top six, the Murray Bombers led early in an important game for their season, but were outmatched in the second half as the Bears ran away with an 11-goal win.
The loss kept Echuca at eight wins for the season, still right in the hunt for finals but needing results to go its way in next weekend’s half of the split round.
While not the result the side was looking for, coach Casey Frame was pleased with her side’s ability to take the game to an experienced opposition.
‘‘I don’t think we were beaten by a better team, which is a good thing,’’ she said.
‘‘We lost it for ourselves; at the end I was really happy with how we’d played.
‘‘They have quality players like Kim Commane, and they just ran away with it. But our decision-making wasn’t great, we threw into their hands and we didn’t get into space.’’
Shepparton, 12-3 heading into the game, started the game looking sharp but Echuca was equal to the task and trailed by only two goals at quarter-time.
The Murray Bombers lifted, defensive pressure led by Kloe Miechel was critical as they took the lead late in the first half, ahead at half-time 26-25.
‘‘The second quarter we really dominated, we made the play and it was all working well,’’ Frame said.
‘‘It was really open in attack, the timing of our leads was really strong and we were playing in front in attack and defence rather than playing behind and reacting to them.
‘‘We did the basic stuff really well, but in the third quarter we forgot about some of those things.’’
But it fell apart quickly in the third quarter as the Bears asserted their dominance, a 17-9 scoreline for the term wrestling back a seven-goal lead by three-quarter-time.
Echuca couldn’t cut into the lead to start the last quarter and Shepparton was able to ease away to the win, 55-44.
Frame said the Bears’ ability to capitalise on her team’s mistakes had been crucial.
‘‘They hurt you; as soon as they get the ball, they attack and convert,’’ she said.
‘‘They’ve got a tall goal shooter in (Commane), she’s played for the Melbourne Vixens and she’s so athletic and accurate and as soon as she’s got possession she’s converting nine out of ten times.
‘‘We focused on winning the ball outside of the ring, and we did that really well in the second quarter, it was just about maintaining that.’’
The Murray Bombers’ balanced A grade squad again performed across the board, led by another strong performance from Erin Hill.
Hill went down with an injury in the late stages of the game, the injury to be assessed in the side’s week off.
Frame said Lisa Drysdale had performed well against a physical defence, while Kloe Miechel had fought gallantly against Commane to try and curb her influence.
Echuca will face Rochester and Mansfield to close its home and away season after this week’s bye, and will need to win both games to be any chance of sneaking in to the top six.
Frame said the side needed a week off, before two potentially difficult games decided their finals’ fate.
‘‘We haven’t had a bye for more than 10 weeks, we all need a break and it comes at a good time for us, our next two games are must-wins,’’ she said.
‘‘Our next game against Rochester will be really tough; the good thing about this league is you could be playing second or ninth, but you’re still going to get a hard hit-out.’’