BULLDOGS Verdelho have kept their hopes of a fourth straight Bathurst Netball Association A grade grand final appearance alive thanks to a comfortable win in Saturday’s minor semi-final.
The defending champions were hardly troubled against Mana following the opening quarter, recovering from a tough start to run away 36-16 winners at the Bathurst Indoor Sports Stadium.
Inclement weather brought the action indoors and that led to a faster but more physical brand of netball.
Bulldogs were understaffed during the first quarter and took time to adjust to match conditions but once they did Mana couldn’t respond.
Based on their split head-to-head results this year spectators would have expected a tight contest between the clubs but the absence of key Mana personnel was telling.
Bulldogs coach Anita van Dartel was pleased with the way her side played out the game.
“It was very physical, which I’m not a big fan of, but you make the most of it and do what you can,” she said.
“In the first five minutes one of my girls received a head knock and had to come off. We only six on the court for probably five minutes until we had another player turn up.
“We had training on Thursday and we were focused on bonding, working well with each other and thinking about what our plan would be moving forward.
Keep up to date with the latest sports news by clicking here.
“A lot of things we talked about putting in place worked well for us.”
Once the Bulldogs returned to a seven-strong lineup they had the edge.
Their linkups through the court were strong again just like their victory over ASC 1sts in the final round of the regular season.
Bulldogs used the momentum of that win to propel themselves in a preliminary meeting with Panthers, who went down to Collegians Mystified in the major semi-final on Saturday.
“It was great to see all our combinations working and it was all positive. When we get everyone there it makes a big difference,” van Dartel said.
“As far as next week we’ll give our best and what will be will be. We’re just going out there to enjoy it.”
Mana coach Michael Germech said the pace of the game was a little too hot for his side to handle.
“The game being indoors was a bit tough for us because the game speeds up and a couple of our newer players to A grade had to adapt to that,” he said.
“It was certainly an eye opener for them but they’ll learn from that and look ahead to the next season now.”
Bulldogs will hope to turn around their results against Panthers from this season when they play in the preliminary final. Panthers have won all three games by at least 14 points.