A review of the Sections 1-4 netball grand finals at Parade College.
Section 1 Grand Final – Diamond Creek 1 vs North Heidelberg 1
by Stephanie Smarrelli
North Heidelberg gave Diamond Creek a run for their money, however, the Creekers fought on to win their ninth Section 1 premiership in a row.
With both teams fairly well matched across the court, the stage was set for a thriller.
In particular, both teams had strong shooters with Diamond Creek’s GA Stacey Gannon and North Heidelberg’s GS Rebecca Colwell both confident under the ring. They ended the game with 39 goals each.
The match was tight from the first whistle. However, the Creekers settled the quickest scoring from North Heidelberg’s errors to establish a four-goal lead.
North Heidelberg found themselves with the centre pass heading into the second quarter. They struggled to move the ball into the circle but once they did Colwell and GA Ellen Close were composed under the ring with an 18-goal quarter.
Bulldogs GD Lauren Byrnes combined well with GK Chloe Meulenmeesters to intercept and deflect every ball they could reach.
North Heidelberg challenged the eight-times reigning premiers and with only five minutes remaining in the first half, Bulldogs’ C Kate Butler intercepted the ball and the teams finally drew level.
Sensing North Heidelberg about to steal the lead, Diamond Creek GK Verhonda Smith stepped up and took a crucial intercept, preventing the Bulldogs from hitting the lead.
As both sides became more and more desperate to turn the ball over North Heidelberg’s Meulenmeesters received a caution. However, that didn’t stop her from applying great pressure over Diamond Creek’s goal attempts.
Getting herself in front of her opponents, Meulenmeesters rebounded a missed goal from the Creekers in the last few minutes of the quarter and sent the ball soaring down the other end. Close scored and with the centre pass in their favour Colwell scored the lead changing goal.
Diamond Creek were shaken mistakes and an errant pass resulting in the Creekers trailing by three goals at half time.
The Creekers came out fast at the start of the third quarter after a close encounter between Colwell and Smith in defence saw contact called against the Bulldogs’ shooter.
The ball transitioned from defence into attack quickly and Diamond Creek GA Stacey Gannon scored the first of what would be a 20-goal quarter for her team, with 15 of those goals her own.
The Bulldogs’ then turned over the next passage of play with good movement from WD Kristie Parks and WA Emma Williamson making the transition easy, however, Diamond Creek’s Smith spoiled the Bulldogs’ efforts again.
Scores grew closer and then a smart deflection from C Chloe Lambert turned the game around for Diamond Creek as they drew level from the gain. A calculated long bomb from Gannon on the following centre pass then saw Diamond Creek steal back the lead.
North Heidelberg continued to push the Creekers with WD K Parks coming off her direct opponent and intercepting the ball, before sending it quickly towards the goal circle for another Bulldogs’ goal.
Diamond Creek put pressure over every one of North Heidelberg’s passes into the goal circle off the next centre pass, however, the Bulldogs’ remained calm and Colwell scored with the lead changing once again only a couple of minutes after they’d lost it.
A contact call against Bulldogs C Stacey Parks saw the Creekers draw even again and then Gannon scored with less than five minutes to go in the third quarter to put them ahead once again. A strong finish to the quarter gave Diamond Creek a three-goal lead at the last break.
The Bulldogs were able to draw level again in the opening minutes of the final quarter, however, they weren’t able to break Diamond Creek’s control of the ball.
A nervous attempt at a goal missed for the Bulldogs and was then followed by a persistent contact call against WD K Parks, which allowed Diamond Creek to escape some heat as they secured another few goals.
North Heidelberg seemed to tire after an extremely competitive 52 minutes of play, as mistakes crept into the Bulldogs game.
Diamond Creek powered home from there with Smith picking off North Heidelberg’s passes into their attacking third and Gannon and GS Kelly Sadowy combining for another big quarter in the goal circle.
In the final few minutes of play, despite falling too far behind to come back, the Bulldogs continued to push themselves in defence. However, the Creekers were too accurate with their passing and shooting to lessen the damage by much.
An intercept from Diamond Creek GD Georgia Bowkett in the final ten seconds capped off a good game for her in defence, as she sent the ball flying down the court and Sadowy shot the final goal, making the winning margin ten goals.
The best on court medal went to Diamond Creek’s Stacey Gannon.
Final score: Diamond Creek 1 (64) def North Heidelberg 1 (54)
Section 2 Grand Final – Diamond Creek 2 vs Ivanhoe 1
by Stephanie Smarrelli
Diamond Creek 2 came from behind to secure a six-goal win over Ivanhoe in the Section 2 grand final at Parade College.
The teams were fairly even early before a few mistakes from Diamond Creek allowed Ivanhoe shooters GS Aysha Blade and GA Leanna Sartori to shoot their team out to a six-goal lead by the end of the first quarter.
Despite Ivanhoe maintaining their lead throughout the second, the Creekers continued to play the game at their own pace, getting the basics right to ensure they continued to score through GS Mollie Rose Marchbank and GA Chloe Gray, who were shooting confidently.
Scores grew close with Ivanhoe’s lead being trimmed down to just two as Diamond Creek increased their efforts in defence and began to read the feeds into the goal circle.
However, Ivanhoe were again able to push their lead out to five goals at half time.
Diamond Creek sparked in the third quarter as it became crucial for them to get the ball back.
Creekers GD Simone Turner worked well with GK Melissa Whitten to confuse the space in Ivanhoe’s goal circle and back each other up when they tried to intercept and deflect the ball.
The efforts from Turner and Whitten in defence paired with sharp shooting from Marchbank is what turned the game around for Diamond Creek as the Creekers kept Ivanhoe to just a five-goal quarter and scored 14 themselves.
Ivanhoe was beginning to feel the pressure from Diamond Creek, who drew closer and closer in scores.
With about four minutes left in the third term, Diamond Creek drew level with their opponents and snatched the lead after Whitten rebounded a missed goal and Marchbank slotted it in down their end of the court.
The quarter ended with Diamond Creek in the lead by four goals.
Ivanhoe started the final quarter with the centre pass in their favour and quickly scored before a pass thrown under pressure resulted in the ball going out on Diamond Creek’s centre. Ivanhoe then scored to bring the margin back to a two-goal difference.
Diamond Creek, spurred on by the loud crowd, tightened up their defence and applied pressure over every Ivanhoe pass, forcing them to rush their passes.
The Creekers confused the space, time and time again in Ivanhoe’s shooting circle causing more opportunities to turn over the ball.
The pressure continued to get the better of Ivanhoe, while Diamond Creek thrived with good feeds from WA Kristie Gannon and C Cassie Lewis making the task easy for their shooters.
As the quarter wound down Diamond Creek turned ball after ball over and capitalised on Ivanhoe’s mistakes to win the game by six-goals.
Diamond Creek’s Mollie Rose Marchbank was named the best on court.
Final score: Diamond Creek 2 (40) def Ivanhoe 1 (34)
Section 3 Grand Final – Bundoora 1 vs Watsonia 1
by Marisa Sopcic
After sitting in the top two spots all season Bundoora 1 and Watsonia 1 came head to head in the Section 3 Grand Final at Parade College.
Watsonia had a big task at hand on Friday night, coming up against the Comets after losing to them in the semi-final just a fortnight earlier.
Bundoora GA Emily Williams scored the first three goals for her side, with the Comets shooters having scored five goals already in the opening quarter before Watsonia could make its first.
Comets defenders Narelle Draper and Hollie Wilson kept tight pressure around the circle and forced many turnovers of the ball.
Watsonia had a slow start to the game and were feeling the pressure early on from their red-hot opponents. By the quarter time break Bundoora led by 11, with the scoreboard reading 14-3.
Bundoora continued with its dominant form early in the second term and moved forward quickly on their centre passes to settle into the goal circle.
Watsonia was unable to create clean play when it was in possession and turned over the ball regularly, while also being unable to stop the Comets from rebounding when shots were missed.
When the Saints were able to push inside their goal circle, they had an in-form Comets defence to try to overcome.
Bundoora extended out to an 18-goal lead at half time and headed into the third quarter with the scores at 27-9.
Coming on court after the half time break, Watsonia set up for their best quarter in the match third term.
They held Bundoora to just five goals in the third quarter – their lowest tally of any term all game.
Watsonia fed the ball down many times, racking up seven goals, which was their highest scoring quarter for the match.
Watsonia proved competitive and demonstrated why they were a top side in the competition, however they could have drawn even closer by three quarter time had they been more accurate with their shooting.
Leading 32-16 at the last break, Bundoora effectively had sealed the grand final by three quarter time.
The Comets were able to get the match back on their terms in the final term, when they put through eight goals to four to stretch the final margin back out to 20.
Best on court for the match went to Bundoora GA Emily Williams, whose outstanding form early in the game set the tone for the Comets and gave them the fast start that propelled them to victory.
Watsonia GS Georgia Cornell worked hard around the shooting circle, scoring over half of Watsonia’s goals in the game.
Final score: Bundoora 1 (40) def Watsonia 1 (20)
Section 4 Grand Final – St Mary’s 2 vs Greensborough 3
by Marisa Sopcic
Greensborough 3 completed a dream finals series to take out the Section 4 premiership with a six-goal win over St Mary’s.
The Boro finished the regular season in fourth-place and won three-consecutive finals to win the flag.
Greensborough had a strong presence on court throughout the grand final, as they held back St Mary’s until the very end to claim the victory.
Greensborough took the lead early on, scoring three unanswered goals in the opening minutes of the match.
Boro GS Mia Sannholm’s long reach allowing her to be fed lobs close to the post and get first hands on the rebounds when shots were missed.
St Mary’s weren’t as quick to feed the ball into their shooters, with the Boro not allowing their opponent in fast play in transition.
At quarter time the scoreboard read 12-5 Greensborough’s way, with St Mary’s needing to use the short break to recompose and work their way back into the game.
However, Greensborough was on the hunt again early in the second and shut down the centre third and forced a held ball. The Boro were not giving St Mary’s any options on court to pass out to.
St Mary’s shooters Romy Dodd-Stephens and Ciara Hanlon were crowded within the goal third with no room to move due to Greensborough’s tight defence.
Greensborough racked up a lot of turnovers and brought the margin out to a 10-goal difference during the second term.
With their back to the wall, St Mary’s picked up the pace with some impressive attacking play. The Burra were able to tighten scores back to a six-goal margin at half-time, demonstrating a stronger style of play ahead of the second half.
St. Mary’s got to within four goals of Greensborough during the third term by ramping up the pressure down the court.
With St Mary’s making their charge, Greensborough was good enough to remain composed and managed to stay ahead by five goals heading into the final quarter.
The start of the fourth quarter was a tense affair, with both sides throwing everything at the contest.
St Mary’s called time midway through the quarter to switch up their line-up, with WD Caitlin Pilati switched into C for Niamh Pilatti.
Greensborough’s long passes down court almost caused them strife at time during last term, with St Mary’s able to pick off a few passes and sit within four goals with minutes still left in the game.
However, the Boro were once again able to keep calm in the gripping late stages and convert some clutch goals to finish with a six-goal win.
Best on court was awarded to Greensborough GS Mia Sannholm.
Final scores: Greensborough 3 (37) def St Mary’s 2 (31)