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Women fired up for CFA

Women wanted: Bayswater CFA captain Diana Ferguson, front, and brigade members Geoff Steward, Lyndee Stride, Kim Phillips and Dave Tangey want to encourage more women to become firefighters. Picture: Wayne HawkinsWHAT DO YOU THINK? SCROLL TO BELOW THIS STORY TO POST A COMMENT.
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FOR many people, the prospect of balancing three children, a husband, volunteer firefighting and a day job at the SES would be more than enough to do every day.

But when Diana Ferguson was offered the opportunity to be the first female urban captain at Bayswater CFA, it was an opportunity that proved impossible to knock back. “It was exciting to pave the way for other women and set a good example,” she said.

Women now represent more than 20 per cent of total CFA volunteer numbers, and they’re pushing for more women to join the ranks. Since March last year, 688 women have joined the CFA as firefighters and in support roles.

CFA chief officer Euan Ferguson said “it’s great to see a boost in female numbers within CFA”.

Mrs Ferguson began her firefighting career as part of a community service component to get into the police force, but decided she much preferred the “firey” life.

“It was a great opportunity to meet a whole range of people from different backgrounds. I’ve done so much training and I’ve continued to build on those skills in life.”

The mother of three said there was nothing the men could do that she couldn’t.

“I go to the gym and work out there, and the three kids certainly keep me fit. But we’re all from diverse backgrounds, male or female, different cultures. Everyone is treated equally as firefighters.”

She said the Bayswater brigade typically responded to about 500 calls a year, and even after all these years it was still an exciting and rewarding experience to fight fires.

And she wouldn’t hesitate in recommending the CFA to other women.

Time of their lives

Chris and Gary Wood are loving life as members of Yarra Ranges Ulysses Motorbike Club. Picture: Rob CarewRetirement used to be a time for putting your feet up but Melissa Cunningham finds an increasing number of seniors are staying young with the activities they aspired to in their youth.
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The roar of engines can be heard from miles away as the bikes cruise down the hills. Amid the smoke and bustle the riders search for a friendly face and somewhere to park.

Every Saturday for almost a decade, 69-year-old Chris Wood has ridden her motorbike from Lilydale to Kilsyth to meet the folk who make up the Yarra Ranges Ulysses Motorbike Club.

There are more than 500 members across the Yarra Valley in this branch alone. The only prerequisite of the nationwide organisation is that you are over 40 and have an interest in riding motorcycles.

It’s not simply the motorbike club’s motto of ‘growing old disgracefully’ that keeps this leather-clad grandmother young. During her first trip away with the club 17 years ago she was swept off her feet by the love of her life, Gary Wood.

“I was convinced by my friend Pat to go away on a trip to Tocumwal with the Melbourne Ulysses Motorbike Club,” she chuckles. “When we got there she said to me, ‘Do I have a honey for you’ and I said, ‘No way’.

“I thought they were all too old — but there was Gary. I sat opposite to him while we ate our barbecue that night.’’

Wearing his sheepskin flying boots and dancing at the club’s rock ’n’ roll themed night Mr Wood, 65, and the future Mrs Wood had their first dance.

“Being a part of the Ulysses makes us feel young again,” Mr Wood says. “Chris and I started the Yarra Ranges branch in 2003 with another six members. It’s not just about having a ride — it’s having a social chat and coffee with other people about the same age as you, who enjoy the same things as you. We have members who are in their 40s all the way up to their 80s.”

Glen Waverley University of the Third Age secretary Pam Murphy says an increasing number of people from the outer east are filling their days of retirement with the activities they aspired to during their working years.

This year more than 500 people have signed up for U3A classes in anything from science and mathematics to literature and French.

“People going into retirement don’t want to vegetate,” she says. “They are seeking new company and wanting to learn about modern technology before they get too old. Our computer classes are always booked out and full of oldies wanting to learn about the internet.’’

Members also keep active with group physical exercise classes.

“It keeps members young, their minds fresh and gives them an outlet that encourages them to be a part of the community.’’

Sixteen years after they met Mr Wood proposed to Mrs Wood on the club’s annual trip to Tocumwal.

“The thing about the Ulysses is that it’s like a big family,” Mr Wood says. “As soon as other members see the Ulysses symbol on your motorbike and you’re in trouble on the side of the road they will stop straightaway and help you.’’

These days Mrs Wood usually enjoys the ride from the back of the motorbike.

Every week members take scenic rides through Kinglake, Powelltown, Eildon and Yea and other towns.

Mr Wood, a funeral director by day, says his affection for motorbikes even inspired him to create a trailer designed to carry coffins to ceremonies on the back of his motorbike.

‘‘Riding has been a way of life for our family,’’ he says. ‘‘That’s our outlet — I think everybody needs some kind of outlet in their life no matter what their age.’’

Like the Woods, Spartans Club runner Neville Gardner is thriving in his older years.

The 68-year-old Croydon resident has run 50 marathons and shows no sign of slowing down.

‘‘I think it’s the adrenalin rush that makes me want to run,’’ he says.

Mr Gardner has been an umpire for the Southern Football League for more than 40 years and competed in every Melbourne Marathon since the event began in 1978.

In 1987, he was selected to join the Spartans Club, a group established for runners who had competed in 10 or more Melbourne marathons.

‘‘The Spartans is just a trade-off of everyone’s experiences,’’ he says. ‘‘We all have a lot in common and share training techniques and it’s a social way to meet people with the same interests as you.’’

Not even a hip replacement last May could stop him competing in the Melbourne Marathon last October.

‘‘After my surgery I started off doing laps around the backyard with two crutches. Gradually, I worked my way down to one. Then finally, I was walking with none, and that’s when I started jogging back on the street.’’

Professor Peteris Darzins, director of geriatric medicine with Eastern Health, says a lot of changes often associated with ageing can be attributed to the winding down of activity.

‘‘A lot of changes we associate with ageing are actually not physiological changes due to ageing but more so attributed to sloth and inactivity that causes the muscles to lose strength,’’ he says.

‘‘Fit and active elderly people who are still running marathons could be deemed freaks mathematically because statistically they are the minority, but biologically they aren’t.

‘‘They have simply maintained the muscle and physical abilities they had at a young age.’’

Professor Darzins says maintaining brain function and avoiding cardiovascular risk factors is the key.

‘‘Being a part of the community socially is also just as important to the elderly as to the young. If you look after your health physically, mentally and nutritionally, you can lead a rich and full life regardless of age.’’

After being given the all-clear by his surgeon, Mr Gardner began a rigorous training regime, walking and running three times a week, and he finished the marathon in six hours and 12 minutes — four hours short of his personal best.

In his prime, Mr Gardner would train five times a week — in the morning, at night and during his lunch break at work. Back in those days he would run the Melbourne Marathon and, less than five weeks later, the South Melbourne Marathon.

‘‘I’m an accountant by trade, so working in an office and sitting at a desk all day has helped me to have my downtime in between my training.’’

Now he deems one marathon a year is enough.

‘‘My family tell me to slow down and that I’m too old for that,’’ he chuckles.

‘‘But I say, ‘I’ll make the call when I decide I’m too old to do it any more’. I’ve always said any exercise is good and for now I’m going to keep doing what I can within my limits.’’

La Boheme awaits Scoresby opera singer

Trumpeting success: Kristian Gregory (centre) with fellow performers Paul Biencourt, Roger Howell and Matthew Thomas at a rehearsal for La Boheme. Picture: Stephen McKenzie Kristian Gregory. Picture: Stephen McKenzie
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WHEN 25-year-old Kristian Gregory compares opera singing to an endurance sport, it’s a fair analogy.

The Scoresby resident is playing Schaunard in the Melbourne Opera performance of La Boheme and says opera singing is very challenging.

‘‘It’s a non-amplified performance which means there are no microphones, and you’re often singing over a 100-piece orchestra.’’

It will be Gregory’s first professional opera gig, but he started his musical as an eight year old performing with the National Boy’s Choir.

He left the choir when his voice broke but continued to follow his passion of classical music, and eventually completed a bachelor of music at Monash University.

Friends and family have always supported Gregory’s musical direction, however the same can’t be said for the general public.

‘‘Although I would love to stay in Australia and continue to work here, I know that at some point I am going to have to go overseas because there is a different view of it there, it is built into their history.’’

He says while opera is a classical music genre, it is just like being interested in ‘‘classical Bowie’’ and people should come in with ‘‘an open mind’’.

Gregory told the Weekly that if people were interested in seeing an opera for the first time, La Boheme was a good place to start.

‘‘The music is accessible, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry. It’s a real rollercoaster of emotions.’’

The opera is also being performed in English.

La Boheme is on the Athenaeum Theatre and will conclude with a gala performance at Monash University’s Robert Blackwood Hall on March 31. Details: melbourneopera南京夜网

Sigma strike ends after four weeks

Joining in: Striking Sigma workers were joined by nurses and Monash Student Union members at the picket line in Rowville last week. Picture: Ted KloszynskiWORKERS at the Sigma pharmaceuticals plant in Rowville are celebrating the end of month-long industrial action after management agreed not to remove penalty rates on night shifts.
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Union members voted to stop striking at a meeting yesterday, after representatives held conciliation talks with Sigma management at Fair Work Australia on Monday evening.

Site organiser Rod Wigg said it was a “great outcome”, although there would still need to be some “trade-offs on the peripheral” before formal negotiations concluded.

He said workers at the Rowville plant had also received a “good wage increase”.

The end of the industrial action will be a welcome relief for the company’s management, as well as the companies it supplies, after industrial action escalated last week when nurses and university students joined the picket line.

Mr Wigg said up to 130 workers had taken part in the strike, which has involved picket lines and blocking trucks from entering the premises.

He said nurses had decided to protest alongside Sigma workers because “they understand what it’s like to have your conditions of work attacked”.

Monash Student Union environment and social justice officer Laura Riccardi said earlier her group had felt compelled to join the fight.

“It represents an attack on an employee’s most basic working conditions. All they’re asking is to maintain what’s currently in their EBA.”

The students took the protest to Chemist Warehouse stores in Oakleigh and Clayton on Friday because the company is a major recipient of goods from Sigma.

Ms Riccardi said the group received about 50 signatures on a petition stating that Chemist Warehouse should boycott its contract with Sigma.

Mr Wigg said he had heard Chemist Warehouse was running low on some of its product lines due to the lengthy strike action.

However, Mr Wigg said the picket line had been flexible regarding trucks carrying “life preserving” drugs.

Chemist Warehouse declined to comment when contacted by the Weekly.

FGDCA: Upwey-Tecoma wins cup

Good times: Upwey Tecoma players celebrate the wicket of Eildon Park star Cam Cosstick during day two of the Knox Tavern Cup grand final on Sunday. Upwey Tecoma won the premiership. Pictures: Rob Carew Hot hit: Eildon Park’s Shane Cosstick hits a cover drive on Sunday.
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UPWEY-Tecoma claimed its first Ferntree Gully District Cricket Association’s Knox Tavern Cup in 10 years, beating Eildon Park at Upwey Recreation Reserve on Sunday.

The Tigers entered the final as favourites but faced a Panthers side desperate for another premiership.

Feaver Medallist Sam Taylor laid the foundation with 88 not out on day one as the Tigers won the toss and batted, making 248 on Saturday.

The Panthers were stung by the dismissals of stars Cam and Shane Cosstick on day two as the Tigers bowled them out for 214 to claim the premiership.

Tigers bowlers, 42-year old seamer Justin Smith (4-35) and Leigh Bianchi (4-79), and were the chief destroyers.

Tigers captain-coach Matt Mulcahy said the premiership was not just for the players but for the communities of Upwey and Tecoma.

“This goes beyond the playing group, it’s about everyone involved in the club,” he said. “It was an unbelievable feeling of relief and happiness when we had finally won. That game was a high quality grand final which ebbed and flowed for two days.”

Mulcahy paid tribute to his whole side for their contributions in the grand final, from Taylor and Ryan Pitts (46) on day one to a stunning catch by teenager Jake Evans and Smith’s four wickets on day two.

“After tea, Evans took an amazing catch and from that point on the game changed and we got the last few wickets,” he said.

Taylor and Smith provided compelling stories to the Tigers premiership. Taylor joined the Tigers from Premier Cricket side Richmond before last season on the advice of his good friend Mulcahy.

The Tigers skipper said Taylor had loved his time back in club cricket. “I don’t think Sam realised how much he would enjoy playing at this club,” he said. “You could tell he was very determined to bat for a long time – he never lost his head.”

Mulcahy said Smith was an emotional figure after the game. “Justin came to us from Upper Ferntree Gully last season,” he said.

“This year one of our players moved to South Australia and he came into the side. We had our backs against the wall on day two so I threw him the ball and told him to give it everything he had.

“He ended up with four wickets for not many runs. This was his first flag, I think he couldn’t believe his luck.”

To cap off the weekend the Tigers’ second side also won its grand final. Knox Gardens beat Lysterfield in the De Coite Shield final.

For more pictures from the Knox Tavern Cup grand final, click on multimedia link to picture gallery, above right.

Survey shows improvement

UNSEALED roads, footpaths, slashing and weed control have all raised the ire of Wellington shire residents.
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Community communication, engagement and lobbying on behalf of the community are also areas Wellington Shire Council could improve, according to the shire’s annual community satisfaction survey.

The survey, undertaken every year by the State government’s Planning and Community Development Department, benchmarks council’s performance over time. This time 83 per cent of residents who participated in the survey believed council was heading in the right direction.

Mayor Peter Cleary said the results were a strong endorsement of council’s performance.

“In the four key performance areas of overall performance, advocacy, customer service, community consultation and engagement, Wellington Shire Council achieved rankings higher than the state average and higher than those in our peer group of large rural shires,” he said.

“We’re always very pleased with the results, but this year significantly so.

“Customer service was our highest key performance rating at 71, a tremendous reflection of the work that has been undertaken over the past 12 months to drive stronger customer focused outcomes across the organisation.

“Our customer service team is a highly talented team of professionals who deal with customer requests day in and day out.

“It can be an extremely rewarding and challenging role but one undertaken with considerable aplomb by our dedicated staff.”

Also noted as areas of high performance were the categories of recreational facilities, appearance of public areas, emergency and disaster management and art centres and libraries.

Cr Cleary said through the survey results, the community had suggested that council should increase its focus on unsealed roads, footpaths, slashing and weed control, community communication, engagement and lobbying on behalf of the community.

For more read Friday’s Gippsland Times.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Power ready for finals charge

GIPPSLAND Power will play the Dandenong Stingrays in a TAC Cup qualifying final on Saturdayfrom 2.30pm at Visy Park in Melbourne.
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The Power finished the home and away season in second place, missing out on top spot on percentage, after a final round win over the Northern Knights at Moe last Saturday.

On paper the Power seemingly had little to worry about as the Knights had only won three games during the year, however they proved to be very difficult opposition given the conditions and with the inclusion of several key players.

Josh Cashman, Jack Leslie and Shane Jamieson returned to the Power side, while skilful Bairnsdale youngster Derek Hayes made his TAC Cup debut after being held back by injury earlier in the season.

Despite having more scoring opportunities, the Power only led by two goals at half-time. It appeared as if the Power was content to put the ball anywhere inside the forward 50 rather than use it intelligently and to the side’s advantage.

Coach Nick Stevens read the riot act to the boys during the main break and was particularly disappointed with their accountability and willingness to follow the most basic elements of the team’s game plan.

It appeared as if they hadn’t got the stern message early in the third term as they again wasted several possible scoring opportunities with bad skills and finishing. By the last change they were only nine points up after again dominating the forward 50 entries.

Just to illustrate the Power’s wastefulness, the Knights scored two easy goals after capitalising on more poor manning up by the Power.

Some good work under pressure by Ben Kearns saw a much-needed reply by Matt Northe, before Northe combined with Nick Graham to see Hayes take advantage of a lucky bounce to put the Power back on track.

Anthony Tipungwuti created a chance for a clever snap by Will Hams and it seemed as if the Power were finally upping the ante.

Another defensive mistake by the Power allowed the Knights to get back within a kick and it was game on. Good work by Northe and Leslie gave the ball to Daniel Jackson who goaled and seemingly put the issue finally beyond doubt.

In the final moments the Knights kicked another but the Power held on well to emerge an unconvincing winner by two points, 9.10 (64) to 8.14 (62).

Tough Sale on-baller Shannen Lange was one of the few Power players who could hold his head high after another superb display of hard-nosed and creative work. He tackled with enormous intensity and put his body on the line over and over again to gather 30-plus possessions and played a crucial role in the side’s win.

Fellow on-baller Nick Graham matched Lange’s amazing statistics in yet another fine game.

Josh Cashman was given an important run-with role and did a fine job in minimising the impact of very dangerous opponents. He too worked very hard to restrict their impact as well as winning several important possessions himself.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Spirited donations

OBERON’S community spirit received a big boost last week.
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Community organisations that contribute to life in the townand district in various ways – from education to entertainment, and everythingin between – were presented with donations totalling $18,126 from OberonCouncil.

The presentations were made at the Robert (Bob) HooperCommunity Centre.

Groups that received funds were:

■Burraga Public School to support learning and Black Springs Public School, OberonHigh School, Oberon Public School, St Joseph’s Catholic School and O’ConnellPublic School to assist with costs for annual presentation nights.

■Burraga Public School and Burraga Bugs Playgroup for the activities and operationof the Burraga Bugs Playgroup facility.

■Telstra Child Flight to contribute to its emergency care transportation.

■Lifeline Central West, an incorporated charity providing a 24 hour crisistelephone counselling service in Bathurst, Orange and Dubbo, for itsmuch-needed telephone counsellor training. Lifeline Central West received47,000 calls for assistance last year.

■The Oberon Men’sShed to assist with the day-to-day expenses in running the facility, includinginsurance and rental fees.

■Oberon Show Society (through president Lyn Butterfield) for the annual Miss ShowgirlCompetition, which will be held at the Oberon Show in February 2013.

■X-sight Youth Group, co-ordinated by PastorAndrew Godden, to help fund the X-sight Youth Talent Show.

■The Country Women’s Association of NSW to assistwith its public speaking contest.

■Bathurst PCYC to assist with running two PCYC Blue Light Discos for the youthof Oberon.

■The Central Tablelands Industry Links groupfor work placement programs and TAFE qualifications for students.

■The Highland Steam and Vintage Fair (in-kinddonation) towards the running of the annual event.

■Life Education NSW to assist with a new Life Education Program vehicle whenvisiting schools in the Oberon area.

■Oberon Junior Rugby League and Oberon JuniorHockey Club for their annual presentation days, and Oberon Tigers Rugby LeagueClub for a fencing upgrade.

■Western Region Academy of Sport for the academy’s operational costs.

Recipients and attendees enjoyed afternoon tea andrefreshments at the community centre after the presentations.

FUNDS: Members of some of the community groups to receive a donation.

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Every Dog has its Day: Jim’s best friend

“NOW you’ve worked like a dog, you’ll know where to place one.”
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Trawalla manager Jim Gaylard was taught that lesson soon after he’d left school about 20 years ago.

“I went up north to be a jackarooand I asked to bring my dog up but boss told me I couldn’t,” Mr Gaylard said.

“After six months he finally said, ‘Lad, you can go and get your dog now’, so I had the weekend off and went home to pick up my dog.

“I asked him later on why I wasn’t allowed a dog and he said to me, ‘now you’ve worked like a dog, you’ll know where to place one’.”

He taught me a lifelong lesson in handling stock and handling dogs, and making sure that I was in the right position and making sure my dogs are always in the right position and that’s stuck with me forever.

“I try and instil that same values into the boys that work here not so much they can’t have a dog when they start out, that you need to stand in the right spot and you need to put your dog in the right spot, otherwise stock just don’t work and they don’t flow.”

Mr Gaylard has three working dogs; Joker who’s six, Dot, nine, and Dusty who’s about three-and-a-half.

“Joker is an all-rounder. She has a beautiful cast and cleans up paddocks really well,” he said.

“But I can put her in the yards as well.

“Dot is the one I pull out when all is going wrong. She’s a bit crazy.

“She doesn’t have great stamina, but she’s very forceful. She’s great for loading trucks and she loves getting in and unloading trucks.

“I’ve got Dusty on loan at the moment. He’ll bark and bark and work all day.

“He’s got massive amounts of stamina.”

Mr Gaylard recently lost one of his star performing dogs.

“I just lost a dog, Chance. I bought him as a two-year-old and when he died he was about 12,” he said.

“The guys around here used to call him the general manager as he got older.

“He didn’t do as much work then, but every so often he’d wander up from the house to the yards to see what was happening during the day.

“He’d go into the yards and bark for a bit and push sheep up and then wander home.”

My Gaylard is unable to work with stock and with his dogs like he used to.

“My role as manager is changing. I’ve got to make room for the younger guys to come through,” he said.

“So I’m stepping more out of the paddock and into the office.

“It saddens me to see the dogs often tied up on chains and not in the paddock.

“But I’ve made the decision to start winding down for now.”

Mr Gaylard has learnt many of his ethics working dogs and stock from his time working as a jackaroo.

“You hear people revving their motorbikes and all of that type of thing to move stock,” he said.

“We were working in total silence.”

To Mr Gaylard, dogsaren’t just for working.

“Animals like that are closer than your best friend, they are your best friend really,” he said.

“You know so much about them and they know so much about you.

“There are guys who like working with tractors, there are guys who like working with tools, there are guys who like working with bikes.

“There are guys who like working with stock and it just so happens that is the category that I fall into and it’s (my dogs) that have helped keep that interest alive for me.”

Jim Gaylard with his working dog Joker. PICTURE: ADAM TRAFFORD.

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SEABL: Raiders start with a win

Good start: Knox Raiders guard Mick Hill was glad his side got a win over Dandenong on Saturday night. Picture: Gary SissonsTYPICAL first game – that was how Knox Raiders guard Mick Hill described his side’s season-opening 88-76 win over Dandenong Rangers at Knox Stadium on Saturday night as the South East Australian Basketball League tipped off for 2012.
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Despite committing a torturous 36 turnovers, the Raiders still clung to the lead for all but two minutes of the game, powered by a 15-point first quarter from star import CJ Massingale (28 points but 12 turnovers) and a 51-40 rebound advantage.

The Raiders have fielded a much younger side this season so veterans like Massingale, Hill, Lester Strong (19 points, 15 rebounds) and John Philip (13 points, 13 rebounds) have been called on to take the majority of the minutes and scoring responsibility – which they did.

The Rangers fought back from 25 points down and got within single figures in the final term before Hill and Massingale put together a run of points to seal the win. Hill said his side should have put the Rangers away earlier in the final term.

“If we had made our shots then they wouldn’t have got as close,” he said. “We missed a lot of easy shots but in the end we know our guys can score points when we need them.”

Hill also commended Massingale and Philip for their efforts. “We knew CJ was going to come out and shoot the ball tonight so I wasn’t surprised about his start,” he said.

”This group has been together for five years or so now so we know how each other plays. This year more young guys are going to get the chance and I’m confident they can do the job for us.”

■ Two-time Dandenong Rangers women’s SEABL championship coach Larissa Anderson has given Knox Raiders a compliment following the Raiders’ 69-60 win over the Rangers on Saturday night.

With locally trained talent such as Sam Donald and Shanae Greaves elevated to higher roles this season, Anderson said the Raiders reminded her of the Rangers before they won their two championships.

“Their side is a lot like our girls were in that they are young players being given more court time,” she said.

Lesser-known Raiders such as Cassie Smith (10 points) and Odette Andrew complemented star signing Kelly Wilson (18 points, 13 rebounds) although Wilson suffered a severe cut under her eye after colliding with Rangers forward Alison Downie late in the game.

The Raiders sent Wilson for a scan to check she hadn’t damaged her facial bones.

Raiders coach Cheryl Chambers commended her players for their efforts. She also praised the fast-paced play of her side.

“We are going to have to play like that this year and take advantage of our speed,” she said.

Both Raiders teams visit Canberra Gunners this Saturday night with the Raiders women facing Canberra at 5.30pm and the two men’s sides playing at 7.30pm.