The Mod Squad: Orange clubs adapt to changes as netball competition gets underway

EIGHT OF THE BEST: The 2014 Orange Toyota Cup contenders include Rhiannah McIntyre (Hawks Ace), Petrina Allen (Life Studio DVM Embroidery), Sophie Kloosterman (High A), Mardi Aplin (Life Studio), Tegan Dray (Robin Hood), Amanda Hurford (Royal Hawks), Nikki Collins (KWS 1sts) and Katie Matthews (CYMS Gladiators).
Photo: STEVE GOSCH 0331sgnet1

EIGHT OF THE BEST: The 2014 Orange Toyota Cup contenders include Rhiannah McIntyre (Hawks Ace), Petrina Allen (Life Studio DVM Embroidery), Sophie Kloosterman (High A), Mardi Aplin (Life Studio), Tegan Dray (Robin Hood), Amanda Hurford (Royal Hawks), Nikki Collins (KWS 1sts) and Katie Matthews (CYMS Gladiators). Photo: STEVE GOSCH 0331sgnet1

THERE’S a new crown to be played for in Orange netball and the battle starts on Saturday.

Eight teams will line up in the newly named Orange Toyota Cup, the Orange Netball Association’s division one competition.

Orange is the leading regional competition in NSW and ONA president Jacki Jasprizza expects the standard to only get better with the changes that have been made to the squad system.

“We’re sort of the pioneers of this. It’s not used much in NSW, so we’re trying it out,” Jasprizza said of the squad system.

“I think it will improve the gap between division one and two.”

Last year the ONA introduced the squad system to the top two grades, allowing players to be promoted and relegated between their teams on a week-to-week basis.

This season they’ve gone one better.

Much like rugby league and union competitions, players can now play a division two game and then, on the same day, start on the bench in the top grade.

“It will be much more competitive because it’s building it up,” Jasprizza said.

Six-time defending champions Robin Hood are back and captain Tegan Dray expects the opening weeks to be unpredictable.

“It will be interesting to see where everyone stands,” Dray said.

“Everyone will be finding their feet in the first couple of weeks and trying to shake off the summer blues.”

Even though her side has won the last six division one titles, Dray said the Robin Hood girls weren’t talking about making it seven.

“We don’t feel pressure. We just enjoy playing with each other and for the club,” she said.

Last year’s runners-up, Life Studio, hope to use the squad system better in 2014.

“We learnt lots last year as far as the squads were concerned,” Life Studio captain Mardi Aplin said.

“Hawks used it brilliantly and their results showed coming third.

“The different rules this year will hopefully enhance it further. It’s all about giving younger players opportunities.”

In Saturday's opening round matches at the Orange PCYC, Royal Hawks and Robin Hood will kick things off at 1.10pm, CYMS Gladiators take on DVM Embroidery at 2.30pm and Hawks Ace Drilling and Life Studio square off at the same time, while at 3.50pm it’s an all-schools battle between KWS 1sts and High A.

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