Maddy Toms

SOUTH Mildura A Grade netball best and fairest Maddy Toms knows the side is in transition, but is excited for the future.

The captain, who turns 25 on Thursday, was handed the 2021 award over the weekend, with former South junior and returning player Mikaela Saunders the runner-up.

The mid-court star was one of only three players from the 2019 A Grade side still playing by the of the of the cancelled 2021 season.

Toms hopes more talented juniors coming through the ranks will put their hand up to play at the top level next year.

“It was a bit of a rebuilding year for us, I think from the last season we played there was only Demelza Henry, Georgia Chase and myself still part of the team, it was new look line up,” she said. “My sister Rhianna also got injured early in the season.

“Hopefully a few more girls will put their hands up to play A Grade next season, I’m not sure if we’ve got many recruits as yet, but we’ll work with the players we have on board.

“It was great to see a few girls play A Grade whose families have been part of the club for a while.

“Next year there will already be a few changes with Demelza retiring and Loretta Thompson taking a step back from coach. She’ll still be around with her daughters playing but it’s obviously sad we won’t have her on the bench with us.”

Toms, who represented Sunraysia in interleague netball in May against North Central, said the club was excited about the move to their new home at the Mildura Sporting Precinct in 2022.

“I don’t think the netball courts are finished yet but hopefully they will be for next year, it’s something we’re all really excited about,” she said.

“We’ll have a few functions during the summer there which will be good, and I know the footballers have been training there already.”

While it was a different A Grade side in 2021, Toms said some of the new additions have already made themselves at home.

“Brianna Scullino really stepped up this year after having mostly played B Grade, the Telfer girls, Lara and Sarah, were really important and Aimee Ryan as one of our new recruits slotted in well,” she said.

“It was great to have Mikayla Saudners come back to the club, and Morna Naquto who was part of our Under-17s has a really bright future.

“We’re still building that team dynamic but we’re excited about a new season.”

Story and photo courtesy of Sunraysia Daily

Henry sees end of the playing line

AFTER more than 20 years in blue and white, South Mildura’s Demalza Henry says she’s ready to wrap up her netball career and take a step back.

The three-time premiership club legend, who will play her 250th A Grade game on July 10 against Mildura, says she’s been lucky to escape serious injury on the court and will see out the 2021 season before wrapping up her impressive netball career.

“I started with South in 1998 and initially started off as a goalie, but in my first few years with the club I sort of played anywhere because we didn’t really have a lot of numbers,” Henry said.

“I pretty much played wherever I was needed, mainly as a goalie right up until we won our first premiership (2009), then I changed to the wing and have stayed there since,”

Henry attributes her longevity to remaining “relatively injury-free”.

“It’s a long time retired, so I figured I’ll continue to play while I can … but I’m definitely looking at this being my last year,” Henry says.

“Both my husband (Mildura Heat playing coach Calvin Henry) and I are playing basketball, and we’ve both said this will be out last year in sport.

“I think it’s time for the younger ones to make their way through and give them a chance.”

Henry admits the juggling act between sporting commitments, work and family isn’t always easy.

“The older kids are good, they can pretty much look after themselves,” she said with a laugh.

“Both older girls play netball, so they help us out when I’m playing, looking after their younger sister, and they all just sort of follow us wherever they go … to trainings and games.

“Thursdays in our house are pretty full-on, with Calvin and I both training and me going straight from basketball to netball training.

“Calvin does the daycare pick up of our youngest, then we meet and do a swap-over. We’ve got the schedule pretty down-pat.”

Henry says the flexibility offered by South has been a contributing factor to her returning for the 2021 season.

“Because I’ve been at the club for so long, they were willing to be that bit more flexible and try and work in with my schedule, which is great and really supportive,” she says.

“When you’ve been a part of a club this long you really do build those life-long relationships and friendships and they end up being your family in a way.

“Both my basketball and netball coaches and teammates have been so supportive and flexible for me to do both (sports).”

Speaking about her most memorable moments, Henry says interleague games and winning premierships are at the top.

“Getting to play with all the girls who are normally your opposition is always a highlight, these are the best girls in the league and so that’s always memorable,” she says.

“The younger ones coming through now definitely show a different style of game to what we used to play, so that’s good.

“The game goes through those phases where it changes and it’s nice to be able to be a part of that progression.

“We’ve got some talented young girls coming through the ranks, but for me, the rest of the season will be us plugging away, hopefully making that finals position.”

Story and photo courtesy of Sunraysia Daily

Medics join the team with Sunraysia footy and netball clinic


SFNL board members and presidents on Wednesday night voted in favour of the initiative, allowing the clinic to start this weekend.

At the “one-stop shop” clinic, Ontario Family Practice GP Dr Travis Taggert and a medical team will be on call to provide treatment to any players who need it.

“Each club has a dedicated medical liaison officer who will liaise between the injured player and myself,” Dr Taggert said.

“What this means, essentially, is the officer will have my dedicated on-call phone number, and can call me from the court or the field when an injury occurs.

“I will be assessing injuries initially over the phone or via FaceTime in the first instance, and from there, a plan will be put into place.

“If they need further treatment, they can come directly into the injury clinic, where my team and myself will be available to provide any on the spot care required.”

Dr Taggert has established relationships with Lime Avenue Radiology and iMed Radiology, to ensure any athletes needing CT scans or X-rays can access them on Monday morning.

“Both radiology clinics are in partnership with us, and have agreed to put aside dedicated places on Mondays for any players who have been referred from the injury clinic,” he said.

“They’ve also dedicated an MRI spot — which is great in terms of diagnosing injuries like ACL and knee injuries.

“At times in Mildura, there’s often a bit of a wait to get these types of medical images done, so we’re really thankful for this support.”

The injury clinic will also have available a range of medical supplies from Country Care, including moonboots, slings, crutches and wrist splints on site, available to be fitted by the team.

“Lime Therapy are on board with us to that end, and they will be available for physiotherapy, hand therapy, splints and that sort of thing,” Dr Taggert said.

“It’s about more than just providing initial treatment on the day — it’s about ensuring follow-up care is there too.

“Investigating test results, guiding the patient through their recovery and guiding them to rehabilitation so they can return to the game they all love, safely and efficiently.

“At the end of the day it’s about providing the best possible level of medical care for our athletes, right through from juniors, netballers and footballers.”

SFNL executive officer Peter Walker said it was a “no-brainer” for the league to back the clinic.

“For us, the establishment of this injury clinic is fantastic,” he said.

“Currently, players need to present to the emergency department … this concept basically fast-tracks (the process).

“When it was presented to (the SFNL presidents) they were unanimous in their support, they can all see the value of it.”

The Sunraysia Football and Netball Injury Clinic will operate from 10am to 6pm every Saturday for the remainder of the SFNL season.


Story & photo courtesy of Sunraysia Daily


Round 1 – Netball

IRYMPLE started the much-anticipated SNFL season with an impressive A Grade win against South Mildura at Sarah Oval yesterday.

The 60-44 battle was fought in front of a packed venue.

Irymple coach Travis Coombes put the triumph down to the team’s “to-be-reckoned-with” backline.

“It was a good game … our girls played well and I think the score reflected the way we played,” Coombes said.

And while he didn’t know what to call the game style because he’s a basketball coach”, Coombes said the team prevailed because it “just gave them nothing in the first half”.

“If we can do that and score most times that’s all we really need … and that’s what we did today,” he said.

“What I’ve brought over from basketball is a focus on possession of the ball … and not throwing the ball away.

“And our shooters made a very high percentage of shots.

“This week we’re going to focus on control, looking after the ball and just getting the kids to get back to the ball instead of throwing it long … presenting to the ball.”

Coombes said South Mildura had a few players back who hadn’t trained much, or at all, and “that might have thrown South out a bit”.

“But our girls were really good,” Coombes said.

And while South Mildura coach Loretta Thompson said it was the first time the women had played together as a team, she was impressed by the more experienced players taking leadership on the court.

“Our captain Maddy Toms really stood up today and directed the girls … we had some young girls and some new A Graders,” Thompson said.

“Clearly our fitness is something we’ll be working on.

“Doing fitness is entirely different to being match-fit so getting into a few matches will be good for our performance.

“And sometimes our decision-making wasn’t great with some of our passes, so we’ll be looking at that.

“Again, that comes with experience.”

But the coach said she was proud of the way the women “showed up” and the energy they brought to round 1.

“In the second half we were right up there with everything,” she said.

Story and photo courtesy of Sunraysia Daily

Let’s get the ball rolling

ONE of the biggest reasons why people play sport at a community level is for the social connections.

And this was sorely missed in 2020 after the netball and footy seasons were crash-tackled by COVID-19.

South Mildura netball star Maddison Toms has reflected on the season that never was – and why she’ll never take for granted again the camaraderie that sport delivers.

“It’s been so tough for everyone at the sporting clubs,” said Toms, who is also a registered nurse at Mildura Base Hospital.

“Not just from the physical benefits of sport, but also the social side of things.

“All of the players and anyone connected to clubs missed having something to look forward to on weekends in 2020.”

The former Sunraysia interleague player said she was looking forward to getting back into the team environment when the pre-season starts in the next fortnight.

“Saturdays have been very different in 2020 – so my hope is that 2021 allows us to get the clubs back together and we can enjoy the social side of sport, as much as the physical part,” Toms said.

“It’s been such a stressful year. I feel drained. But I’m ready to hit the reset button for the new year.

“I don’t take the simple things in life for granted now. And that includes spending time with my teammates.

“I never thought I’d say this, but I’ve missed going to training.

“So bring on pre-season training and hopefully we can have a 2021 season that is as close to normal as possible.”

Story and photo courtesy of Sunraysia Daily

No fans No play

THE Sunraysia Football Netball League (SFNL) season will not go ahead if social distancing laws remain in place.

SFNL president Paul Matheson said unless the Victorian Government lifted all restrictions on community gatherings, no football or netball would be played in Sunraysia this year.

Club presidents voted unanimously to support the decision during a specially convened phone hook-up with league officials on Wednesday night.

“We simply will not play if there are any restrictions in place around crowd numbers — simple as that,” Mr Matheson said.

“The club presidents are all fully supportive of the decision and it’s our opinion we have a social responsibility to the community not to determine who and who can’t attend games — so no crowd, no play.”

The SFNL season had been put on hold until at least May 31 as the nation battles the COVID-19 pandemic but, as case numbers flattened, optimism had grown about a potential start.

In recent weeks AFL Victoria had proposed a June 6 start could be possible for community football if, on May 11, the Victorian Government relaxed its strict social distancing laws.

Mr Matheson said while he appreciated the SFNL was affiliated with AFL Victoria, it was not required to take direction from it.

“It is obviously a little bit different for us because we are an independent league,” he said.

“While we are affiliated with the AFL, the decision rests solely with the board — the Sunraysia Football Netball League board.

“We are unified clubs. We are a football and netball league and that makes it difficult when we deal with the AFL — AFL are only in control of football.

“We identify we are family clubs and people have sons and daughters who play both sports — the parents volunteer for both sports.

“For clubs to be as successful as they are, it is a total commitment by the whole family unit, so the decision we have made — and will always make — is both sports being one entity.”

Mr Matheson said the financial impact of games being played without crowds had been something the league and presidents had discussed, but did not ultimately influence their decision.

“Our clubs can afford to play and it just goes to show how resilient and how financial they are,” Mr Matheson said.

“I wouldn’t think there would be too many leagues across Victoria, let alone Australia, who could proceed without an income.

“Even though (clubs) have made a decision they don’t want to proceed without crowds, they could proceed if they had to.

“It would obviously be a big strain on the league and club finances, but how many leagues and clubs have finances in today’s environment? I would tend to say the ones run by the AFL don’t.”

The SFNL board will meet on May 6 to officially ratify Wednesday’s decision.

2020 Season Launch

Everyone welcome at the 2020 season launch.

Saturday 28th March @ the club rooms 6pm to 12pm

BBQ tea, drinks at bar prices, entertainment by DJ Loui – rock til you drop!

After the League practice matches being played at Merbein




Bulldogs brace for finals

WITH third place on the ladder under wraps, reigning premiers South Mildura are steeling themselves for an elimination final in SFNL A Grade netball.

Loretta Thompson’s Bulldogs defeated Red Cliffs 77-24 at Sarah Oval on Saturday and play Mildura this week, but Ouyen United the week after is already a fait accompli.

While South finished higher on the ladder, the semi-final has been drawn to be played down the highway at Blackburn Park, so the home crowd will certainly be on the side of the Kangas.

“I think it’s about staying fit and healthy and getting ready to fight,” Thompson said about the preparation for that semi-final.

On Saturday, although matched up against a young Tigers outfit, the Bulldogs showed they are going to be a tough out in the finals.

Conditions weren’t pretty, with a bitter wind prevailing across the court making the game a bit of an arm wrestle, but the Bulldogs still managed to transition well.

“We did talk about keeping it nice and short and flat in the weather,” Thompson said.

“And working the goalers into a shorter shot, so that was good.”

Thompson was also pleased that, coming off a bye, the Bulldogs were able to get into gear from the outset.

“It was nice to have a week’s rest, we actually rested all week – I think the girls needed that to get over a few aches and pains,” Thompson said.

“I was happy with the way they started and they played a good four quarters.”

On the scoreboard the Tigers were well beaten, but they did have the occasional flutter.

They will take a lot out of the game, playing a team which, like South Mildura, was built on youth for a number of years with some senior experience guiding them.

Story & photo courtesy of Sunraysia Daily

Round 15

OUYEN United struggled to kick with any potency all day until junior Bailey Pengelly embraced the stage and delivered a powerful punch to the homeside’s aspirations with two match-winning goals in the first three minutes of the final quarter.

Pengelly kicked his third goal to seal the Kangas’ 14-point victory against a very competitive South Mildura side at Sarah Oval.

Pengelly’s season has been outstanding – he’s a Rising Star nomination who has played several senior games; he’s also the on-field leader for the Kangas finals-bound under-18 side, and he should feature prominently in club and league best and fairest awards.

“It was an important win and keeps our opportunity to play finals alive – if we had lost today that would have made it (the task) hard,” Pengelly said.

“The game was very physical (but) I managed to find space (gain possession) and kick accurately.

“Dad (Nathan) always took me to Auskick and stressed the importance of good kicking technique.

“Dick” (grandfather David Blandthorn) taught me the tough stuff!

“I’m really looking forward to Merbein next week – it’s a big game for us.”

While Pengelly blitzed, other Kangas also had an impact. with Alex Morrish again a commanding force.

Also damaging were Ben Mole, Jacob Grigg, Sam Mead, Aron Morrish and, at 43 years of age, “Harry” Darren Latta showed glimpses of past Mallee League premiership form.

Mead is often unheralded, but his impact in close games in recent weeks has heartened Kanga fans.

“I like to play half forward and wing, read the play and make space,” Mead said.

“We had to respond (today) and dig deep – I thought when we needed a spark Bailey provided it.”

The Dogs were well in the hunt all day with Tyler Curtis (five goals), Kevin McDonald (three) and John Jackson standouts.

Curtis was clearly the Dogs’ best player and threatened to win the game off his own boot with some big marking and accurate goal-kicking, often from long range and difficult angles.

Dogs’ coach John Pratt said his team had competed well.

“Our work rate was there; we battled hard and I couldn’t fault our effort – we were competitive for four quarters,” Pratt said.

“Milko (Curtis) was again outstanding – he has a double tag each week but still produces; I rate him as the best forward in the competition.

“I thought Bailey Cogan, Kevin McDonald and Bailey Stone were all solid for us.

“We have the bye next week (so) it gives us a chance to get a few guys back from injury.

Football score

Netball score

Netball – Bulldogs bite late

SOUTH Mildura showed their considerable experience in big games when they snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in the final minutes of a thriller in A Grade netball at Sarah Oval.

With scores tied at 40 apiece at the last change, the Dogs steadied to record a six-goal win over a surging Ouyen United that had threatened all game.

Tayla Willsmore and Ash Morrish were deadly in attack and got the visitors into a two-goal lead with precious minutes remaining, but then two missed shots cost the Kangas dearly.

The Dogs got the rebounds and went swiftly and directly down court and Demi Toms made no mistake.

In the high-pressure furnace, Toms’ goal-shooting accuracy was exemplary – she missed few – and was the difference when the game’s tempo ramped up.

“All our games against Ouyen United have been close and today was no exception,” Toms said after the match.

“We all back each other up – I have confidence in my teammates that they will put the ball up for me (so) I can take advantage.”

Toms’ assessment of play was reinforced by her sister and captain Maddison at wing defence, who is a nurse and no doubt a budding director of nursing at Mildura Base Hospital.

“Ouyen United are a tough side, they were with us all game, the intensity of play never dropped,” Toms said courtside.

“We lifted that bit more – we took possession and played smart.”

Centre Rhianna Toms also offered some perspective.

“I’m the runner – I control the midcourt and try to keep composure so that passes are not rushed; we all work together and encourage each other with positive support – there’s never anything negative.”

For the Kangas, this was a game that got away, but coach Kyra Nathan said there was plenty of upside in the loss.

“The girls we brought in – Esther Manley, Tayla Willsmore and Laura Hayter were all exceptional for us today,” Nathan, who was named best with Morrish, said.

“It (the loss) was our own fault; now we need to recover, reset and look forward to Merbein next week.”

Stories & photos courtesy of Sunraysia Daily

Round 13

IT was a day when Wentworth could have cemented their credentials as a legitimate top-four contender.

At the end of a tough battle with South Mildura at Sarah Oval, the Roos emerged with a 19-point victory and four valuable points but more questions were raised than answered by the team clinging to fourth place on the SFNL ladder.

After a lightning quick goal to start the game by the Bulldogs’ Indigo Howell, Wentworth worked their way into the lead but never full control of the game and the hosts even managed to reduce the margin to a goal going into the final quarter.

However, three majors shared by potent forwards Wade Hancock and Andrew Wall, who finished with three apiece, made sure bottom-of-the-table South weren’t going to pull off an upset and severely damage ambitious Wentworth’s finals hopes.

Fifth-placed Merbein lurk four points behind the Roos with a game in hand and slightly better percentage and who knows how hot-cold sides Mildura and Ouyen United will perform down the home straight? But Wentworth coach Sam Curran was just happy his side had its fate in its own hands.

“It’s pretty disappointing the way we went about it today, no fluency,” Curran said.

“South probably looked the better side over the four quarters. They moved the ball better, took the game on and had a bit more run. We were just consistently turning the football over.

“But we got those four points and we hold our spot in the four for the moment. The reality for us is we have to win at least two of our last four games to stay in the four. If we don’t win (this week against Mildura), we have to win two out of three.

“We have won three in a row and the side is maturing. The old us might have lost that game today.”

Colin Andrews, Jack Carter, Cambell Davison, Joshua Dean, Kaine Behr and Dion Harris provided plenty of drive throughout the day but they were almost stalemated by South coach John Pratt, off half-back, Nathan Turley, John Jackson, Deklan Loveridge, Howell and forward target Tyler Curtis, who finished with three goals.

For Pratt, there’s no such thing as a “good loss”, but there is “improved performance”.

“Early in the year we were having big fade-outs and now we were competitive in that last quarter today against a pretty good side,” Pratt said. “I thought after half-time we were good.

“They ended up with 17 points, so their inaccuracy kept us in the game, but there were a lot of good signs for us, particularly with our young guys.

“We are playing a pretty exciting style of football and starting to gel. You always want to win but we also want to be competitive each game, we don’t want to be a side that’s a pushover.

“Obviously finals are out of the question for us but we are looking at the bigger picture and this is a two to three-year plan for us.

“The rest of this season is all about looking forward and being competitive.”

Story & photo courtesy of Sunraysia Daily

Photos courtesy of Football Mildura FB

Football Score

Netball Score


The following is the round 13 summary from the weekly footy guide (R14)

Firstly, thank you to Aboriginal Elders Ada Peterson and Uncle Peter for conducting the welcome to country and smoking ceremonies at #3 last Saturday, the first time that this has been done at our ground.

Indigenous round was special in more ways than one as this was our annual Terry Dean Shield round vs Wentworth. Terry Dean became a life member at both clubs in 1967 and 1980 respectively, a stalwart at both clubs in every facet of the game. Every season the 2nd meeting between our sides battle out for the right to hold the shield for the next 12 months, it was half time in the seniors and with all other Netball and Football results in we were in a deadlock of 7 ½ points each for wins vs losses for the days games….…..the ½ point each was due to the U18 game being a draw with the result finishing on 49 apiece. It came down to the last game of the day that was anyone’s guess as to which way it would go. It is history now and it will show the cards fell the way of Wentworth. The shield was presented to Josh Dean in the after game presentations, until next season when we meet again.

Moving forward to this week and we head out to Kenny Park to take on the Merbein Magpies, our last encounter way back in round 5 will show we led all day in the seniors until that final siren…….today the boys are looking to reverse the result and snatch victory from the magpie nest, stay tuned at 2.30pm today.

A-Grade Netball took a hit last week at the hands of Wentworth for the second time this season so our ladies will be out to get one back today at 12pm…….a big in is going to be our #1 goal shooter in Demi Toms after a few weeks away.

This week we also have taken on board with Merbein the very important message and awareness on supporting and looking for the signs that some people around our clubs and the community in general may be suffering as a result of suicide. This is not a nice subject to discuss but it is a very real problem in today’s society and has been prevalent in our community in recent months. Always remember that support is available and if you feel your not on you’re A-Game reach out, if you think someone is in need of some support ask if they would like to talk, a friendly smile and a listening ear is all it takes to know that a situation or a problem may not be as bad as you think. Good Luck to all teams today and lets make it a great day…..


The Barking Bulldog