by Jordan Witte
The Metro Jets U17-2 squad welcomed back Ketria Wood from an ankle injury, but couldn’t salvage any points from their fifth game of the season, crashing to a 8-32 loss against Essendon Thunder on Tuesday night.
With just eight players available for selection and missing key bookends Louisa Bongrain (school commitments) and Leah Cheevers (ankle), the Jets were up against it, as the Thunder ran rampant from the first quarter onwards.
The Jets sent Charlotte Caldow, Aimee Harris, Bec Stingel and Alicia Lupone to the VCNA tournament, and the effects of a long day of netball so quickly backed up were evident early.
The Thunder jumped to a quick lead, positioning themselves well defensively to cut off attacks towards Harris and goal attack Anushka Sadler. Too often starting behind, the goalers found themselves out of position, leading to easy rebounds from defense for Essendon.
Throughout the midcourt, Stingel, Burr and Lupone toiled away fruitlessly, as small errors were punished by the bigger, stronger Thunder midcourters. Welcoming back midcourter & defender Maddy Birrell, the Jets sent her to wing defense, where she put in a typical stingy performance, running herself ragged through four quarters.
Charlotte Caldow and the returning Wood were effective in patches in defense, as the Thunder pressed through their midcourt time and time again with speed. With scarce time to set up, Caldow and Wood were constantly under pressure, and Wood in particular will be better for the run as her ankle improves.
Sadler and Harris improved as the game went on, but with precious few opportunities presenting themselves, first Sadler, then Harris in goal attack, were drawn further up the court and into the action.
This had the effect of having too many players in one part of the court, which slowed the Thunder down momentarily, but also made it difficult for Stingel, Burr & Lupone to work through the slog of players.
The Jets never really got off the ground against the Thunder, with the 24-goal loss an accurate representation of the side’s lethargy post-tournament, and the absence of two key bookend players. The Thunder were also extremely impressive in their movement, and the Jets will have plenty to work on before the second half of the season gets underway.
The Jets will welcome Bongrain back in their next match, while Cheevers may resume training in the next fortnight with a view to returning to the court in three weeks.