A DOMINANT performance inside the circle from Robin Hood Orange Glass shooters Erin Johnstone and Sinead Bradley has given the reigning Orange Netball Association Toyota Cup premiers a comfortable 59-50 win over Life Studio.
Played at Anzac Park on Saturday, the six-time defending premiers led their old ONA sparring partners from start to finish with a strong opening quarter win (18-11) the catalyst for the victory.
“We got off to a good start and that sort of got us ahead,” Robin Hood coach Cindy Gilchrist said.
“(Life Studio) played really, really well. They weren’t weak anywhere across the court today, they still had massive amounts of talent out there.”
But there was little Life Studio defenders Sherryl Selwood and Joanne Locke could do to contain the best inside-circle targets in the business.
Wreaking havoc for the entire clash, Bradley finished with 36 goals and Johnstone 23.
“They don’t want to miss and they rarely do,” Gilchrist added.
“They’re great builds for the positions they play. They’re tall and they’re strong.”
Life Studio skipper Mardi Aplin, herself a strong shooting option with 31 goals for the match, said tackling Robin Hood is always a tough battle across the entire court, especially inside the circle.
“It was a really good tussle in there,” Aplin said.
“Sinead, she’s a big opponent in there and hard to stop. Then if you stop Sinead you’ve got Erin to deal with, so it’s a really hard task for any defence to go up against them but I thought Jo did a fantastic job.”
Taking advantage of the size difference in their own attacking circle, Robin Hood extended its quarter-time lead marginally at the major break, leading Life Studio 32-24.
Although behind by eight at the half, Life Studio did enough in the second quarter to suggest a tough second half was on the cards, with goal defence Selwood finding her groove to snatch four interceptions by the end of the second stanza.
But Robin Hood put that notion to bed with a string of six unanswered goals at the beginning of the third quarter to effectively seal the result.
Not to be outdone, Life Studio rallied and a 10-goal final term to Aplin and five from goal shooter Em Callaway helped stamp some respectability on the final score, a comfortable 59-50 victory for Gilchrist’s Robin Hood.
“I’m really happy with that,” Aplin said following the loss, a game endured without Em Brotherton, Nat Carthew, Charlotte Jasprizza, Sophie Beer and Mel Vardenaga.
“I think we all played well, we lost it on our own mistakes but Robin Hood were the better team on the day, all credit to them.”
Jacky Lyden was sensational for Life Studio, as was her mid-court opponent Tegan Dray for the victors.
Robin Hood’s Narelle Taylor also shone at goal keeper, marking the ever-present Aplin in the circle.
Always a torrid affair, Gilchrist said the clash bodes well for Orange’s looming state championship campaign at Campbelltown.
“It’s a tough ask in division one of the state championship, but I think we’ve just got such a depth of talent here and in that team, experience, they’re just really hard competitors, the Orange team,” Gilchrist said.
“They can go out and play the best team in the state and they’ll still give them just as much as they get. They’re just awesome.”
ROBIN HOOD 59 (Sinead Bradley 36, Erin Johnstone 23) def LIFE STUDIO 50 (Mardi Aplin 31, Em Callaway 19).