THE Gippsland League A Grade Netball Grand Final at Moe was a thrilling encounter between Sale and Leongatha which finished as it started, with very little between the two sides. In the end though, it was Sale which made a third quarter lead of six goals count as they held on for a two-goal victory and their first-ever A Grade title.
But it was a tough, energy-sapping affair throughout and the truth of it was there were more heavy collisions on the netball court in the A Grade match than there were on the footy field nearby between Sale and a rampaging Morwell Tigers’ outfit. Leongatha settled better in the match and got out to a two or three goal lead early but Sale had closed it down to an 11-all score-line at quarter time. There was an epic battle going on between the goal shooters for both teams and the key defenders. Leongatha’s Meg Rossa and Kate McCarthy were managing to score their goals early on but the further the match went, the tighter were the efforts of their opponents, especially Kate Eddy who went on to win the medal for best-on-court.
Sale appeared to have adopted the tactic of colliding late and heavily with their opponents after they’d taken clear possession of the ball and with the umpires letting that go, the Parrots got a little rattled in the middle stages. With the Sale’s goalers, Lara Dunkley and Ella Bertacchini, on target, especially through the second and third quarters, they made their possession count and got out to an 11-goal lead at one stage in the third term before Leongatha knuckled down and pegged them back. The Parrots cut the deficit back to six at the start of the last quarter, it could have been four, and while that looked a tough ask, they actually forced more than enough turnovers in the last quarter to snatch the result. But a resolute Sale got the clutch baskets and held on to a two-goal break as the final bell loomed. Leongatha had the chance to cut the result to one goal after the siren but it was Sale’s victory, a well-earned one by them.