Grand final hosts

The Eagles Senior Women’s side in their new jumpers before taking to the field last week. Photo contributed.

The spotlight is firmly on women’s football in Narrandera with the sportsground under consideration to host the grand final of the 2020 Southern NSW Women’s competition on March 27.

AFL Riverina has sought support from Narrandera Shire Council to waive the match fees associated with the grand final – the first time it will be held in the town.

The Southern Women’s competition was created two years ago and has expanded to seven teams including the Narrandera Eagles.

The season kicked off last Friday and will finish in March. According to AFL Riverina, the competition has the scope to grow even further and has recognised the need to keep costs down as low as possible for the participants.

In their debut game on Friday night at Apex Park in Wagga, the Narrandera Eagles senior women’s side went down to a much stronger North Wagga Saints 9.18 (72) to 1.0 (6). Goal scorer for the Eagles was Lucy Hickenbotham.

In other matches, Riverina Lions 7.5 (47) defeated Lockhart’s Brookdale Bluebells 1.4 (10), and East Wagga Kooringal Hawks 0.120 (120) trumped Griffith Swans, failing to score.

This Friday, the Eagles back up on their home turf to play East Wagga Kooringal at 7.30pm.

In the season opener, they came up against a well drilled and skilled North Wagga Saints but came out strongly in the first quarter. The Eagles chased hard, but struggled to move the ball into their forward fifty.

The Eagles came out in the second quarter and battled hard. More used to the intensity of the game, the midfielders, led by Julie McLean started to put together some impressive passages of play. Some hard tackling by Lara DeMamiel and Lucy Litchfield saw a few great turnovers go the way of the Eagles.

The Narrandera side lifted in the second half. Some positional changes by Coach Dan Litchfield saw Jacinta Smith move to full back, and Daneka Hatty into the ruck to assist Sam Irons. The team defense was able to hold the Saints to three goals in the second half, while Lucy Hickenbotham scored the Eagles’ first ever senior womens’ goal through a beautiful set shot from 20 metres out.

Although well beaten on the scoreboard with the final score of 9.18-72 to 1.0-6, the team and support group were extremely positive about the game.

Club president Mark Savage encouraged residents to support the women’s team at their first home game at the sports ground on Friday from 7pm.

Savage described hosting the women’s grand final as “exciting”.

“It is great for women’s football, bring outside visitors to Narrandera and showcases the facility,” he said.

Savage said tenders would be called shortly for the proposed new change rooms and a club house able to seat 150 people plus an eating facility.

The Eagles have three teams of junior women’s with Under 13s, U15s and U17s due to start next week.

Savage said the women’s football was a real growth area for not only Narrandera but around the nation.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the girls play this Friday night and they have a few home games coming up.”

Women’s coach Dan Litchfield welcomed the grand final on the “best ground in the Riverina”.

He said a few players pulled up a bit sore but “they all loved it” and none were lost to injury. At training this week, Litchfield worked on hand ball skills with the women.

“A lot of them got caught with the ball on the weekend, not being quite sure what to do when they get the ball so we worked on  moving the ball a lot quicker,” he said.

Best on ground for the Eagles was Lucy Litchfield, Jacinta Smith, Lara DeMamiel, Charlotte Paterson, Julie McLean and Suzie Litchfield.

“A lot of locals travelled over to see the girls and we should expect quite a few here on Friday night as well,” Litchfield said.

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