Sport

Young talent time at Echuca

By Lauren Bordin

All the hype has been about Echuca’s attacking excellence, but its defenders have been getting the job done every week.

Ahead of meeting Shepparton Swans at Princess Park tomorrow, young faces are carrying the side through the season.

Replacing Dearnah Kent and Eve Gregor this year are Bridget Byrne and Tamara Nicholls and they have taken to A-grade without a hitch.

Bryne is a Goulburn Valley interleague representative and has held her own against Ovens and Murray the past two years.

Zara Pearson is also in the mix in the defensive end and coach Gina Pearson said they were providing a solid base.

‘‘All of our defenders are new to A-grade, Bridget Byrne is still eligible to play under-17s and Tam Nicholls plays goal defence most of the time,’’ she said.

‘‘But we made a couple of changes because Bridget is going to be away in a couple of weeks, so Zara Pearson played in goal defence last week and had a really good game.’’

Byrne, 17, is joined by Meg Rohde, 16, in wing defence to create a young back third and should the trio stick together it could become one of the most dangerous in the competition in the future.

The Swans’ own defensive end is a bit of an unknown, with Pearson to trial how best to combat Wellman Family medallist Julie Telford, who has returned to the league.

Swans coach Jana Bruinier is ready for a test that will indicate how her side has progressed in the first half of the year.

‘‘They’ve had some great results and are going really well this season, so it’s definitely a tough game and one that gives us an idea of where we’ve been sitting,’’ Bruinier said.

‘‘They’ve got some great goalers and rotating through Olivia Hannon who’s been there a while, Claudia (Mawson) is a newbie and I can recall Sheridan (Townrow) from a few years ago, so they’ve got a good mix of height and accuracy.

‘‘We’ll just need to play a good team defence and really stick to our structures because you can’t just put it all on someone to pin down a tall like Sheridan.’’

Shooter Annie Cobbledick has VNL commitments that will keep her out of tomorrow’s match, leaving Bruinier to jump into the circle with Sophie Atkinson.

But Sarah Down moving into centre will ease the load in the midcourt and Bruinier said making sure entries into the attacking third were turned into goals would be key to the victory.