Frenchville’s Alysha Matheson searches for a break at Wednesday night’s grading game against Titans (Angels).
Frenchville’s Alysha Matheson searches for a break at Wednesday night’s grading game against Titans (Angels). Chris Ison

Teams ready for title tussle

THE grading is completed and now it is time for A-grade netballers to get down to competition action.

While coaches tend to disagree on which team will win the 2012 competition, they all expect this season's program to be even more competitive then it was last year.

For Rockhampton Grammar School's Magic it is always tough as they are in the continuing process of "growing players".

Coach Emma Pershouse knows it is going to be hard after loosing three or four of last year's top performers, including Claudia Jones and Maddy Ryan, who have left school.

However now is the time for the players who were the younger members of last year's squad to step up a level.

One such player is dynamic centre Ella Lawrie who has already shown she can mix it with the best during pre-season trial matches for the Claws.

Pershouse said the experience gained last season by Emma Walsh, Tracy Bowland and Olivia McKenzie would make them key players for the 2012 Magic.

"We are using the A-grade to gauge how we will go in this season's confraternity competition," she said.

That certainly doesn't mean the Magic look on the A-grade competition as unimportant, she said.

"It's a stepping stone or platform as it is tough for high school girls playing against women," she said.

"We are aiming for a top four finish."

When is comes to coaching Pershouse said she and her support staff enjoyed taking the schools top team.

"They are also excited to train and play matches it gets us excited to," she said.

Bluebirds Hawks coach Barbara Ahmat is a lot happier about her teams chances in this season's competition then she might have been a couple of weeks ago.

After loosing both games in the first week Bluebirds look a lot stronger in the second round of grading and then won both games at Jardine Park on Wednesday night.

"We beat Brothers Fuchsia and Cap Coast Marlins," she said, "we keep rotating our players but it is working out alright."

For Bluebirds the coach has been pleased with the progress being made by Kirri Allen and 14-year-old Claws starlet Gia Konui.

"Gia is building in confidence," she said.

"Also Sarah Jensen has made the step from A-reserve centre to A-grade wing-defence or goal-defence.

"She was once a circle defender and I moved her to centre, now she is built on that extra fitness," Ahmat said.

Ahmat thinks her Bluebirds team will be up to the challenge this year along with Crimson, Colts and Frenchville Brumbies.

She said Brumbies has gained from the return of Angelia Horne and Alysha Kuhl's move back to the defensive circle.

Ahmat said by week three of grading she could tell whether the competition was going to be competitive by assessing the goal margins between teams.

Ahmat is also excited that the Rockhampton Netball Association can now host 154 teams for the 2012 season.

"It's unbelievable as we have more then doubled our number over the past six years," she said.

Numbers in Gracemere, she added, are increasing while Woorabinda has entered a senior and a junior team this year.

"It is fantastic for those (Woorabinda) women who put together a team and now have a junior team as well," she said.