By Karis Ryan
The Western Roar gatecrashed Lisa Millman’s 300th game celebrations to make a 2-0 start to the Gold Industry Group West Australian Netball League (WANL).
The Roar were able to overcome a huge build up to beat the sentimental favourites, Millman’s ECU Souwest Jets, 62-51 at the State Netball Centre on Friday night.
Both teams started the match well as Roar’s Tess Cransberg and Jets’ Giselle Taylor went goal-for-goal in the first term.
The Roar put the foot down midway through the quarter, with long and fast passes between the experienced trio of Lindal Rhodes, Bella McLernon, and Eliza Vlasich making sure the ball lived in their attack end.
Cransberg and Molly Warne captilised as the Roar went to the quarter time four goals up.
The Roar started the second term where they left off, coming out with intensity and the Jets struggled to keep up.
Warne’s height proved tough to match for Riley Culnane, as the tall shooter took her teammates high passes with ease to create repeated scoring opportunities. But the Jets wouldn’t go away, with goals from Taylor and lady of the hour Millman spurring them into action. Culnane also came up with a big win as Souwest moved within six goals.
But the Roar steadied to push to a 32-23 half-time advantage.
The third term saw some positional changes, with Warne replaced by Larissa Harrison and Sarah Leitch coming on as the Jets’ new Centre.
Taylor kept the Jets in the match with impeccable scoring, and down the other end Harrison made her presence known by nailing her first six goals.
The physicality lifted another level as multiple players hit the floor in contests. Millman copped a knock to the face but soldiered on, before Leitch also took a high hit and was forced from the court with a blood nose.
The Jets responded with three goals in a row as Paris Newman and Culnane came up with defensive ball.
A wayward throw from Jessica Repacholi was all the Roar needed to steal back the momentum late, pushing ahead by 12 goal at the last change.
The Roar injected the fresh legs of Maddison Schultz and Oshi Vale to start the final term.
The Jets got the first goal of the quarter but were never able to get close enough to challenge the Roar on the scoreboard.
Things got worse as Millman was involved in another physical contest, which saw her limping off with an ankle injury.
Roar Coach Andrea McCulloch said her team’s consistency and attacking was a bit patchy but said they were still building early in the season.
“We have a lot of speed in our attack line and when it all gels together and we get our timing right, it’s beautiful to watch, but it’s just getting that consistency to do it for the full 15 minutes and then for the full game, sometimes we just need to control it better,” McCulloch said.
“It was an emotional game for them and we knew they’d come out strong wanting to win the game for her. We knew we had to apply that pressure right from the start because if we let them get a lead then they’d probably run away with it.”
“It was just about making sure that we focused on ourselves. We felt that last week we probably focused a bit too heavily on what Warriors were doing and not about what our strengths were.”
“So we really wanted to make sure we stayed focus on what we could do well and we felt if we focused on that and kept building with what we were doing then the game would come to us and it did.”
The Western Roar take on the Curtin Hamersley Comets in Round 3, and McCulloch was wary of the winless Comets.
“Every team is a challenge in this competition, it’s quite an even competition with the new teams coming in so it’s really important that again we just build on our consistency,” McCulloch said.
“We know with Sarah East at their shooting end they’ve got a nice tall at that end so we’ve got to work really hard defensively to try and turn some ball over early before it gets to her because she’s pretty accurate. It will be really focusing on that we’re doing our job early.”
ECU Souwest Jets
Giselle Taylor 44/57 (77%)
Lisa Millman 5/8 (63%)
Brooke Gibson 2/5 (40%)
Larissa Harrison 27/30 (90%)
Tess Cransberg 25/33 (76%)
Molly Warne 10/20 (50%)