By LIAM TWOMEY
AN INJURY depleted VU Western Lightning was handed a 20-goal loss in the Victorian Netball League last week.
The Lightning fell behind early in the first term against Peninsula Waves and could not recover throughout the match.
VU trailed by seven goals at quarter time before the Waves extended the margin to 12 at the main break.
The young Lightning squad fought hard in the second half and was able to remain competitive but failed to eat into the margin.
Wednesday’s 58-38 win is the sixth of the season for Waves and sees them move to outright third spot on the VNL ladder.
“We have obviously been decimated by injury and we are finding it very hard to rebuild,” VU coach Matt Hills said.
“We are basically playing 18-year-olds to cover for senior and experienced players. The last two weeks has demonstrated that.
“When you take Brooke Thompson and Fiona Themann out of our defensive end, who were arguably the best defensive combination in the league the last couple of years, that is always going to be tough.
“Then we were without Sophie Barr in goals while Sophie Gunn is returning from illness and injury, it is a tough road.”
The Lightning now occupy ninth place on the VNL ladder, only ahead of the winless Fed Uni Ballarat Pride.
However, the damage isn’t as bad as it appears with VU part of a logjam of teams with only one game separating fourth and ninth.
Despite the uphill battle, Hills is still confident in his team’s ability and pinpointed the club’s next two games against the Sothern Saints and DC North East Blaze as season defining.
When VU was closer to full strength earlier in the season, the Lightning won three of its first four games which included a victory against the Saints by three goals.
“We still want to make finals,” Hills said.
“We are still working very hard at training and continue to set ourselves high standards. Certainly there is plenty of work to do on the track and there is a lot discussion from the playing group about what we want to do and what we can achieve.
“The next two games are critical. We really need to win both to give ourselves the opportunity to play finals. I think that after those two games we will re-asses. If we can win those two games and get back to 6-6 we are still in the fight.”