Match reviews from the Section 1 to 4 netball grand finals.
Section 1 Grand Final – Diamond Creek 1 vs Ivanhoe 1
by Stephanie Smarrelli
Diamond Creek continue to be an unstoppable force in the NFNL winning their 10th Section 1 premiership in a row.
The 61-46 grand final win over Ivanhoe posed the question – will a team ever defeat the Creekers?
Ivanhoe came out firing in the first quarter and for the opening 15 minutes it looked like they might be able to take it to the premiership juggernauts. However, Diamond Creek lifted to another level in the second quarter.
Diamond Creek came out firing with strong footwork from GK Verhonda Smith turning over the ball on Ivanhoe’s first centre pass, which GA Stacey Gannon then converted. A strong lead in the goal circle from Gannon off the Creekers centre pass then led to another goal.
Ivanhoe then almost lost their next centre pass play with an offside call, however, GD Grace Markovic stood up and intercepted a Diamond Creek pass. Ivanhoe then carefully but quickly transitioned into attack and sharpshooter Ebyan Cabdi put Ivanhoe on the scoreboard.
Diamond Creek were quick to score the next, with Ivanhoe following moments later. However, the next few minutes of play saw both sides turn over ball after ball, with nervous passing and strong defensive pressure forcing the two teams into making errors.
A clean deflection on the shot from Ivanhoe’s Markovic broke the goalless spell for the two teams, with Ivanhoe quickly converting down the other end of the court and then scoring off their centre pass to suddenly be one up on Diamond Creek.
The Creekers began to settle as the quarter drew to a close, with their passing and shooting becoming better as they warmed into the match, while Ivanhoe began to feel the pressure as the Creekers forced them into transitioning slower to their goal circle.
With the last centre pass of the first quarter, in their favour Ivanhoe needed to score, however, a strong lean over the ball was enough to create a miss and the two teams went into the second quarter on 12-all and Diamond Creek started with the next centre.
The Creekers shone in the second quarter with hard drives to the circle edge from WA Brooke George and C Bronwyn Taylor pairing well with shooters Gannon and GS Kelly Sadowy making it hard for Ivanhoe to turn over the ball.
When Ivanhoe did manage to turn over the ball through GD Markovic and WD Lauren Henderson, Diamond Creek’s defensive pressure from end-to-end was outstanding.
Hands over every pass and communication between each other resulted in Diamond Creek forcing held balls, deflections and turnovers.
The game smarts from Diamond Creek and their experience in staying composed in grand finals allowed them to dominate the second quarter 19 goals to 10.
Ivanhoe made multiple changes for the third quarter to try to work themselves back into the game. The change that had the biggest impact was moving WD Henderson into C to provide some more defensive pressure in the midcourt, with C Olivia Marian moving into WD.
The switch allowed Ivanhoe to shut down some of Diamond Creek’s smooth transition from end-to-end with the rest of the team also settling some nerves on court and getting back into the match.
Ivanhoe’s goal shooters Aysha Blade and Cabdi were clinical in the third quarter only missing one goal combined from their 12 attempts. Their accurate shooting kept the team from falling away and enabled Ivanhoe to trim the margin between the sides by two.
Seven goals separated the teams at the final break as Diamond Creek bounced back from the third quarter and turned their defensive pressure up a notch while Ivanhoe rearranged their line-up with GK Suli Leota Lu the only player to retain her position from the previous quarter.
Ivanhoe C Markovic provided some extra defensive pressure through intercepts across the court, however, Ivanhoe were unable to capitalise with nervous fumbles and rushed passing creating opportunities for Diamond Creek to win the ball back and score.
Diamond Creek’s hands-over pressure and strong communication between teammates kept them in control during the final quarter as Ivanhoe faded from the match.
Shooters Gannon and Sadowy starred in the last quarter only missing two goals from their 19 attempts with their strong leads and drives opening up space for each other.
While defenders GK Smith, GD Leonie Sansoni and WD Tess Osborne deflected and intercepted pass after pass in Ivanhoe’s attacking third.
Winning the final quarter by eight goals, Diamond Creek cemented their position as the top team in Section 1 with a 15-goal win.
Speaking after the match Diamond Creek coach Brooke George expressed how proud she was of her team their achievement.
“Girls well done on a great season,” George said.
“We had a few changes at the start of this year so we weren’t sure what would happen, but we really worked hard all season and I’m really super proud of us and 10 in a row.
“We are really super excited about that.”
Final score: Diamond Creek 1 (61) def Ivanhoe 1 (46)
Best on court: Grace Markovic (Ivanhoe)
Section 2 Grand Final – Craigieburn 1 vs St. Mary’s 1
by Stephanie Smarrelli
St Mary’s were able to hold off Craigieburn to win the Section 2 netball title at Parade College on Friday night.
Craigieburn had the first centre pass, however, some strong defensive pressure through the midcourt resulted in an intercept from St Mary’s C Jaqueline Harrington.
St Mary’s then capitalised with GA Holly Gilbert slotting in the first goal, followed by shooter Sarah Hepburn slotting in their second moments later.
Craigieburn were unsettled at this point, however, a pinpoint feed into the goal circle from C Emma Dicello led to their first goal of the match through Section 2’s top goal shooter Belinda Vass.
As Craigieburn started to find their pace, however, St Mary’s lifted in defence with GK Jaymi-Lee Demanuele taking a strong intercept and St Mary’s swiftly transitioning into another goal.
At the end of the first quarter, St. Mary’s were ahead by three goals.
Craigieburn were better defensively in the second quarter, forcing St Mary to slow down a little, however, they missed their opportunities in the shooting circle and St Mary’s pushed them further behind.
Craigieburn GD Amanda Spillare did a wealth of work to confuse the easy feeds into the circle from St Mary’s and came away with an intercept in the opening few minutes of play with GK Shannon Tresider turning over the ball for Craigieburn as well soon after.
Their efforts in defence prevented St Mary’s from adding another score to the board for the first three minutes in the second term.
However, once the ball landed in the hands of St Mary’s goal shooters Gilbert and Hepburn they were fairly accurate, combining for 82 per cent accuracy in the quarter while the Craigieburn shooters were showing nerves, combining for a total of 50 per cent.
At half time, St. Mary’s were five goals up, not a large margin, however, Craigieburn were still unsettled in the third quarter.
The defensive pressure from Craigieburn was once again really good, with feeds into the circle from St Mary’s hesitant and a few balls being turned over, however, their connections through the midcourt went missing at times.
While St Mary’s treasured the ball in the midcourt with C Casey Barnes and WA Harrington pairing well to provide options in the centre third and then drive hard to the circle edge.
Despite their hard work, however, St Mary’s only won the quarter by a goal, entering the final quarter six goals up.
St Mary’s won the final quarter by seven goals to win the premiership cup.
Craigieburn had some good drives to the circle in the final quarter, however, the St Mary’s defenders lifted to keep the Craigieburn shooter to only four goals in the quarter, with their first goal taking almost four minutes of play.
GK Biljana Cvijetic took multiple intercepts in the defensive third, while GD Demanuele did plenty of work to keep the Craigieburn shooters from finding any easy drive to the ring.
As the margin blew out, Craigieburn’s connections continued to be put under pressure from St Mary’s with pass after pass missing their intended targets and being converted into goals by the St Mary’s shooters.
In the end, St. Mary’s won the match by 13 goals with their final quarter performance blowing the margin out.
Speaking after the match St Mary’s coach Jacqueline Harrington expressed how proud she was of her team.
“I am so beyond proud of everyone,” Harrington said.
“There was a time where we were sitting fifth on the ladder and had to win the final three home-and-away games to actually make finals and we did just that and haven’t dropped one since.
“We fought really hard to get to where we are today and couldn’t have finished it off any better, so well done girls.”
Final score: Craigieburn 1 (28) def by St. Mary’s 1 (41)
Best on court: Sarah Hepburn (St Mary’s)
Section 3 Grand Final – Watsonia 1 vs Ivanhoe 3
by Marisa Sopcic
Ivanhoe 3 took out the Section 3 netball flag with a gripping six-goal win over Watsonia 1 in the premiership decider at Parade College.
The two sides had been in great form in their earlier finals matches and meet in a much-anticipated grand final, that didn’t disappoint.
The game began with Watsonia stopping the progress of Ivanhoe in attack, taking an early intercept that resulted in a goal.
Watsonia GS Anna Kennedy dropped the ball back in the perfect position for GA Nina Cowie regularly as the Saints opened up a four-goal lead in the opening minutes.
Ivanhoe soon got on the board with a goal by their GA Leona Hristovska. Resetting down the court, Ivanhoe moved the ball cleanly across the thirds and slowly started to close the scores.
Watsonia C Ajiah Harris was a pivotal player in the first term. She moved fast into space on court and was always free to received passes. Her efforts helped her side take a 10-5 lead into the first break.
Ivanhoe made a positive start to the second term and began to close the gap with some early goals.
A contact by Watsonia WA Dimity Harris gave Ivanhoe another opportunity at the post, and an accurate shot put them within two, before Hristovska took a long shot which she nailed to make it a one-goal ball game.
Watsonia responded to the challenge and managed to put together a chain of goals to extend their lead back to four.
Ivanhoe kept fighting to reduce the deficit, with their defence applying great pressure on each pass inside the circle and managing to force several turnovers.
Both teams had a tight hold down in defence during the third term, as the ball kept moving between the two ends of the court.
Ivanhoe got on a roll late in the term. Trailing by five goals, they managed to take momentum into the final break with consecutive goals, before Hristovska scored just on the three quarter time whistle close the deficit to two.
It all came down to the final quarter.
The pressure was evident early, as Watsonia lost possession with an uncontrolled pass.
Ivanhoe defenders Alyssa Nolan and Ellie Ryan made the shooters fight for every ball and were quick to grab a rebound on every missed shot.
Despite trailing for much of the game, Ivanhoe timed its run perfectly and took control of the game in the late stages. Once they hit the lead, they didn’t look back.
Ivanhoe stretched their advantage to five with only a few minutes left in the game and worked to make sure they held onto the ball – denying Watsonia any chance to take back possession and get back into the contest.
After rising from third spot on the ladder at the end of the home and away season, a third-successive finals win gave Ivanhoe a deserved premiership win.
Final score: Ivanhoe 3 (30) def Watsonia 1 (24)
Best on court: Leona Hristovska (Ivanhoe)
Section 4 Grand Final – North Heidelberg 3 vs St Mary’s 2
by Marisa Sopcic
St Mary’s 2 worked its way from fourth position at the completion of the home and away season to premiers after an outstanding finals series.
The Burra caused a boilover in the Section 4 grand final against top team North Heidelberg 3, winning the premiership decider 33-22 at Parade College.
St Mary’s defenders Clare Derham and Chloe Knight set the tone early and made it hard for North Heidelberg to get any clear looks at the ring.
It was a tight battle right throughout the first term, with scores tied at 6-all with a minute left on the clock.
North took the centre pass but St Mary’s forced a turnover and score to take the lead. The Burra added another before the quarter ended to take a two-goal lead into quarter time.
North Heidelberg shooters Kylie Yelland and Sarah Williams had to work hard to take possession against St Mary’s tight defence. They found it hard to keep the scoreboard ticking over, and with each miss St Mary’s built more momentum.
The Burra led by six goals, however North settled and began to take control during the final minutes of the half. They worked in sync to move the ball into the ring and managed to close the deficit to three.
A turnover created by St Mary’s saw them take the ball to the post again with seconds left on the clock. An accurate shot gave the Burra a four-goal lead at half time.
The pressure continued to mount on North Heidelberg as St Mary’s WD Claudia Sharples claimed an intercept and sent her side forward for another score.
The Burra restored their six-goal buffer as the intensity lifted, with plenty of tight contests under each post.
North Heidelberg refused to give in and some late goals got them back within four goals heading towards the final term.
There were no signs of tension from St Mary’s in the final term as they rose to the challenge and charged towards the upset win.
The Burra won the midcourt battle and their shooters did a good job of holding their space under the ring. Whenever they did miss a shot, they were quick to haul in the rebound and convert on the second chance.
North struggled to finish off their shots as their deficit increased, while St Mary’s seemed to gain more confidence as the game went on.
By match end the Burra led by 11 goals to claim a memorable premiership win.
Final score: North Heidelberg 3 (22) def by St Mary’s 2 (33)
Best on court: Matilda Blakey (St Mary’s)