Hoppers leap to first round victory

A Merimbula defender fires a kick back into play during the Grasshoppers' 6-1 win over Wolumla on Sunday.
A Merimbula defender fires a kick back into play during the Grasshoppers' 6-1 win over Wolumla on Sunday.

The Merimbula Grasshoppers claimed first up wins over Wolumla when Far South Coast Football Association play returned on Sunday.

Played at the Berrambool Oval both the first grade men's and open-age women's squads secured wins over the Tigers.

The women's was the first senior draw on the cards and the Merimbula team shot to the fore early in the piece after pressuring the goal square.

The Grasshoppers pushed up to the right of the goals before a pass across the open net was recovered and a quick swivel by the Merimbula player gave a strike option that looked to float over the bar before swooping into the corner of the net.

From there, the Tigers boasted a majority of the attacking pressure, but could not overcome a stoic defensive effort from the Grasshoppers including a number of saves from keeper Suzie Devon.

In largely warm conditions it was a war of attrition in the second half, with the Grasshoppers holding out Wolumla's efforts to retain the 1-0 lead.

In the men's, the Grasshoppers got some early strike options and jumped to a 3-1 lead before half-time.

In the second half the hosts found even more scoring options to secure a 6-1 result in the opening round.

After a suspension of both the junior and senior draws in 2020 due to Covid-19, numbers have bounced back surprisingly well for the 2021 season, but Ms Warren said a shuffling of the junior age groups had forced changes to the draw.

"We're up to about the eighth version of the draw at the moment, it has definitely been a work in progress," Ms Warren said.

"The numbers are looking good, but it is tough fielding particular age groups."

Ms Warren said the all-age women's competition would be just one team shy of previous seasons as the Bega Devils have joined forces with Tathra this year to field a combined team.

Meanwhile, the senior men's comp has grown despite losing one of the prolific names from the reserve grade draw.

"Wolumla are one of the largest clubs and they've had to withdraw from reserves due to lack of numbers, but Mallacoota will field their first men's team in six years with a return to reserve grade," she said.

"And Eden and Bemboka are both fielding reserves and all-age men's teams and by all accounts they will be quite strong teams, too."

Ms Warren said she was quite pleased with the numbers for this season, saying registrations were "much stronger than I had anticipated".

She said the under 15s had seen a bit of a struggle for numbers and clubs will play variably to balance the cards.

"If you can field a full team you will, otherwise you will field the number of players - no less than nine - that the other team turns up with," Ms Warren said.