We had three brilliant grand finals to conclude what was a terrific 2022 NFNL winter netball Season last Friday night at La Trobe Sports Stadium.
Section 1: North Heidelberg 1 (53) def by Diamond Creek 1 (56)
Diamond Creek 1 have continued their remarkable run of section 1 premierships, getting on top of the minor premiers in North Heidelberg 1 by three goals in the grand final.
Despite this being their 12th consecutive title, the Creekers were the underdogs coming into this clash against a Bulldogs line up who had set the benchmark all season.
But despite the task at hand, Diamond Creek managed to pull away in the final quarter to secure the 56-53 triumph. Creekers wing attack Bronwyn Taylor showed her class throughout the entire match and was named best on court, being the perfect link up player between the midcourt and the attacking circle.
Initially it was Taylor’s side that got off to a promising start, dominating the possession in the opening five minutes. As expected, the Bulldogs fought their way back in the latter stages of the term, but Diamond Creek kept the pace to ensure scores were level at the first change.
The Creekers slowly got on top in the second quarter, stretching the lead out to a few goals. But as they did in the first term, North Heidelberg pushed their way back into the game, with some late goals falling to once again keep the scores tied by half time.
The intensity went up a notch at the start of the second half as both sides were desperate to break the grand final open. Diamond Creek threatened to do so in the third quarter as their defensive pressure caused multiple North Heidelberg turnovers.
As a result, the Creekers were able to reward their efforts with goals, getting out to a lead as high as six goals in the closing stages of the term.
The Bulldogs tidied things up late to trail by three majors at three quarter time and keep within touching distance.
In another tight term, the final quarter went down to the wire. The Bulldogs shot the opening two goals of the term to get to within one goal, but it was the Creekers who kept their cool in the heat of battle, grabbing crucial rebounds and producing intercepts when it mattered most.
It allowed Diamond Creek to control the last few minutes of play, which proved to be enough to claim the premiership flag.
Section 2: North Heidelberg 3 (39) def by North Heidelberg 4 (41)
The two North Heidelberg sides went head-to-head for the section 2 premiership, and it was North Heidelberg 4 who hung on in an entertaining match.
Not much could be split between these two teams throughout the year, both finishing on 11 wins during the season, and the same occurred for most of Friday night’s grand final.
There were plenty of momentum swings in the match, with either side having multiple opportunities to pinch the win, but North Heidelberg 4 were able to secure victory in the last few moments. Goal shooter Kate Ditcham was a class above in the goal circle, winning the best on court medallion with an excellent display.
The result was the opposite to when these two teams met two weeks ago in the second semi-final, a game in which North Heidelberg 3 dominated the second half to win by seven goals.
It was a fairly even start to the first quarter before North Heidelberg 4 started to find their feet and take a slight lead into the first change.
The second quarter had a similar beginning to the first, but with both teams now settled, the ball movement was slick and effective from either side.
North Heidelberg 4 got on top once again, stretching the lead out to beyond five goals, before North Heidelberg 3 surged late to reduce their deficit to three majors at the main break.
Continuing from their impressive finish in the first half, North Heidelberg 3 stepped up their game to level proceedings before edging out a handy one-goal three-quarter time lead.
North Heidelberg 4’s defensive pressure increased in the latter stages of the third quarter, ensuring their deficit didn’t balloon out any further.
Their promising end to the quarter allowed North Heidelberg 4 to grab the momentum back, in the final term, re-establishing their narrow lead as a result.
North Heidelberg 3 were up for the fight right until the end, as both teams sought after every rebound and loose ball.
But it would be North Heidelberg 4 that would hold on, with the minor premiers prevailing by two goals in a great grand final.
Section 3: Greensborough 2 (30) def Heat 2 (27)
Greensborough 2 capped off a brilliant section 3 finals series after defeating Heat 2 by three goals in the opening match last Friday night.
The Boro repeated their efforts against the Heat a fortnight ago in order to secure the 30-27 win, now making it three consecutive victories over Heat this season.
Competition leading goal shooter Mia Sannholm was immense in the goal circle for the Boro, with her shot making ability a class above. She was rewarded with best on court honours.
Both teams initially struggled to find their feet in the early stages of the first quarter before it was the Heat who found some rhythm, particularly through goal attack Rupinder Kaur who helped Heat grab the early lead.
A strong defensive effort from both teams rounded out the quarter with Heat gaining a two-goal advantage at the first change.
They continued the to put the pressure on in the attacking end in the second term, but it wasn’t long before Greensborough started to fight back and make it an even contest towards the end of the half.
Despite their efforts, the Boro still couldn’t grab the lead but headed into the main break with a lot more confidence despite being two goals down.
Heat’s ball movement was excellent to begin the third term, putting Greensborough’s defence on the backfoot. But the Boro persisted and eventually were not only starting to gain multiple stops but were able to put some scoreboard pressure on their opponents.
With things starting to click, Greensborough levelled the scores as the three-quarter time siren approached, leaving the game wide open for any side to take in the last term.
The momentum was well and truly in Greensborough’s favour in the final quarter, highlighted by a strong start that saw them take the lead in the early stages of the term.
Sensing the game being taken away from them, Heat produced one last push towards victory, but the Boro defence stood tall and were able to hit some crucial shots late in the contest to claim the premiership.