Former Jaegers lift Newcastle for state championship campaign

Bronwyn Denham
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CO-COACH Trude Yen says home-court advantage and a core group of experienced players will give Newcastle its best chance in years of winning the State Netball Championships open division.

Newcastle has won NSW titles atunder-17 and under-19 level over the past 10 years but has not claimed the open tournament.

Newcastle Netball Association will host the top open division, under-21s and top two under-17 divisions of thechampionships from Saturday to Monday at National Park. Charlestown will host the open second division and under-17 third division.

Yen said former Hunter Jaegers Narelle Eather, Tiffany Gilmour and recent squad addition BronwynDenham would form an experienced foundation for the senior team to challenge for the title.

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​Yen was disappointed to lose Central Coast Heart defender Tianna Cummings and shooter Katelyn Stansfield after the NSW Premier League club declined to release them but was happy to have a defender of Denham’s pedigree as a replacement.

Denham played for the Queensland Firebirds and Jaegers at national league level and for 12 years with Newcastle in the state league before taking a break from the sport in2013.

“Bron has only just registered with Nova Thunder, but she has also played with Nova before with Tiffany Gilmour,” Yen said.

“It’s lovely to have her on board. The experience will be great for the girls as well. She’s worked with Tiffany and Narelle before, so she’ll fit in quite easily.

“She only just came into the team in the last two weeks. We haven’t even really had a training session with her, but I’m sure she’ll just slot in beautifully because she’s an experienced player.”

Yen said the addition of players with national league experience should bring the team closer to a title.

“Over the last couple of years we haven’t had the big names like Narelle and Tiffany and Bronwyn in the team,” she said.“They’ve done very well without those names. There’s some very strong players who are in the team again this year who know how to push through those really tough games.

“We havea lot of grit and determination in our team, and now we’ve got a lot of names.With that combined we should really be starting to make a dint in that top three.

“I think the three teams, the under-17s, the under-21s and the opens, have got a real chance of getting in the top three.”

Yen described the carnival as a “marathon”for the players, who must survive 20 26-minute games, or almost nine hours of netball, over three days.

Trude Yen

“After three days of hectic and consistent netball, sometimes some teams break down, some girls break down, the bodies are starting to waver, so it will depend on who is the strongest at the end of the day,” she said.

“These championships are minefields as far as injuries and team spirit are concerned. It really is about making sure the girls are physically and mentally stable for those three days.

“It’s always been a marathon, since the year dot, but it’s one of those things that the girls love about it, just the fact that it puts all that energy on the line. It brings out the best in the netballers.”

Manly have won four of the past five open championships, but Yen said they and some of the other strong Sydney districts could struggle playing outdoors in unfamiliar surrounds.

“We know which way the wind blows, we know the courts, we know how slippery they can get if they’re wet.Because we play on them every Saturday, we know the atmosphere of how to shoot and how to play in that atmosphere.

“Other teams like Manly and Campbelltown and Randwick that we’re going to be coming up against, a lot of them play indoors down in Sydney.Our advantage is that we play outdoors and we’re used to the wind and we’re used to the sun in our eyes.”

The Charlestown team that has beaten Newcastle in the past two under-21 finals will contest the open division this year.Port Stephens, Maitland, Scone and Nelson Bay will also field teams in the top open division.

Newcastle: Narelle Eather, Tiffany Gilmour, BronwynDenham,Kimberly Goodearl, Lara Johnson, Eliza Lewis, Ellie McVey, Georgia McVey, Dominique Murphy, Emma Prince.

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