On-court rivalry rolls on

April 5, 2024 BY

Busy: Brooke Bolton is a star of the Heathcote side on-court and in the coaching team. Photo: FILE

TWO of the biggest rivals in the Bendigo Bank Heathcote DFNL netball competition, Mount Pleasant and Heathcote clash in Saturday’s opening round of the 2024 season.

Last season’s elimination finalists tip-off a new campaign on the new-look Toolleen court. When they last met it was Mounts which beat the Saints.

A Heathcote team jointly coached by Brooke Bolton and Kelsey Hayes will be fired up from the first pass. “We have had a lot of close games with Mounts across the past two years and it will be a really good test to see where we are at,” Bolton said.

“They have not lost too many players, so they will be strong,” Bolton said of facing a team now being coached by Anthea McCleary who has passed the 400-game milestone for the Blues.

A star in mid-court, Bolton is a dual winner of the Esther Cheatley Medal as league fairest and best.

Heathcote’s build-up included last Thursday night’s practice match against Strathfieldsaye.

“It was a really physical game and I was really happy with how the team went,” Bolton said of taking on Storm.

“I believe our defensive pressure will be a real asset all season.”

Bolton said goalkeeper Jen Van Neutegem has had a strong pre-season. The Saints have also had Chelsea Caughey switch between wing attack and wing defence in the practice matches.

“Chelsea played as WA last year, but has impressed with her defensive pressure.”

A new-look attack has the height of Jess Peck and Sophie Pica, and drive of Georgia Bolton from goal attack.

“They have improved with every practice match and worked hard to build that connection in the goal circle.”

Players to watch for Mount Pleasant include Maeve Tupper in mid-court, Ivy Harrop in defence, and the skilful Ava and Olivia Nihill, and Matisse Perez.