ANTICIPATION had built all week since Phillip Island won their way into the A Grade grand final in a very convincing fashion over Korumburra Bena.
Many believed that with a full squad to choose from, the Island girls were firm favourites over the Dalyston young guns.
The match ups and questions to ask before the game even started were captivating.
Could the Dalyston defence, consisting of league Best and Fairest Alana McRae and 16 year old Gemma Thomas, handle the experienced ‘twin towers’ in Janelle Smyth and Kelly O’Neil?
Who would establish the critical midcourt dominance, with both teams so evenly matched? Could the Island’s defensive legend Lawri Piera contain the ever reliable Britt Thomas in attack?
Could Dalyston cope with loss of three senior premiership players and rely on so many young, inexperienced players?
Time would tell, game on!
It started with no surprises, with coaches starting players as expected in terms of positions. The pace was fast and early turnovers from both teams were perhaps due to a touch of nerves.
The Island’s defensive end were on top early, with Lawri Piera (GD) and Emily Donovan (GK) reading the feeds into the goal circle well.
All tied up with six each at quarter time, Dalyston had a clear tactic to combat Janelle Symth (GS), with Alana McRae (GD) not even contesting the centre pass but double teaming with Gemma Thomas (GK) on Smyth then, and at any other opportunity.
The Dalyston girls were also trying to keep Smyth as far away from the goals as possible, employing a team defensive strategy against her, and it worked.
The Dalyston girls were up two at the half time break and Phillip Island coach Kate Steel made some strategic moves, putting herself into WA and bringing Chelsea Connell into the centre.
This looked a better match up for Phillip Island, with the Connell a little taller than the Magpies’ centre Hannah McRae and able to absorb what was a physical match up between the two.
Symth and O’Neill found their range, although a little further out than usual, and they were goaling well.
The Island had the momentum swing they were looking for and took the lead with three minutes to play in the quarter.
Magpies coach Jenny McRae, sensing the momentum change, made an adjustment, putting Mollie Bloch into GS and Grace McRae out to WA.
At three quarter time, the Island were up two, and came out to start the last with a steely determination, shooting the first two to open up a four goal lead.
It looked like the game might open up for them, with Kasey Beattie (WD) playing a cracker and dominating in the midcourt.
It was up to Beattie to be more accountable against Grace McRae, who was helping Dalyston in their attacking third.
Dalyston captain Britt Thomas showed why she is regarded as one of the best attacking players around, making two crucial back cuts and conversions to get the margin back to two. Beattie was forced to leave the court under the blood rule and the Island choose not to replace her. Play continued for a good minute until Dalyston scored and Beattie could re-join play.
With 2.30 mins left to play, the scores were level and Dalyston did what they do best: thrive under the pressure of a big game.
They were able to raise the tempo of the game when in defence, then show poise and control when in attack.
Mollie Bloch, with a premiership already under her belt from B Grade, shot truly to give a two goal break, the Island getting one back with their centre. But the hooter rang and the Dalyston club came away with their third consecutive A Grade flag and great birthday present to coach Jenny McRae. Final scores A Grade: Dalyston 27 def Phillip Island 26
Best on Court: Kasey Beattie (PI). Best Players Dalyston: Alana McRae & Britt Thomas. Phillip Island: Kasey Beattie & Janelle Smyth.
B Grade – Dalyston 33 def Koo Wee Rup 29
Koo Wee Rup would have gone into the game confident they could take the premiership they have coveted since falling just short at last year’s Grand Final, having beaten Dalyston convincingly in the Semi and once during the season, the other meeting a draw. Both teams starting a little nervously, the cold wet conditions not ideal for clean netball and a number of players with fumbles and turnovers. Dalyston up three at quarter time. The Demon girls found their groove in the second, Chelsea Ingram (GA) was up and about, moving confidently despite the wet and goaling accurately.
Jaymee Eastwood (GK) for Koo Wee Rup was repelling plenty of ball but if it did get over to her direct opponent, Mollie Bloch (GS), she was making her pay. Koo Wee Rup up one goal at the long break. The rain came hard at the start of the third, but Koo Wee Rup was still controlling the game. Alix Galante (C) for the Demons and Paige Holness (C) for Magpies were a very even match up, both thriving in the wet and providing options for their teams. The Koo Wee Rup supporters were loud and proud as ever, despite the conditions, they were urging their team on. The Demons still one up at the last change. The Magpie girls were grinding away at Koo Wee Rup, not giving them any easy ball, this typified by WA Sarah Blundell who raised her output for the final quarter. Mollie Bloch was vocal and making an impact on the score board for the Magpies, loving the pressure of a big game, as was Oona Shepherd (GD) at the defensive end. The Dalyston girls with a four goal lead with under five minutes to play. Koo Wee Rup had one final push to get the game back, Sara Bayliss (GD) forcing some turnovers to give her team a chance but they couldn’t convert the chances to goals. The Dalyston girls taking the premiership by four goals.
Best on Court: Sarah Blundell. Best Players: Dalyston: Sara Blundell & Mollie Bloch. Koo Wee Rup: Chelsea Ingram & Jaymee Eastwood.
C Grade – IK 33 def Phillip Island 30
With the Inverloch Kongwak girls running away with the victory when then met in the Semi, the Sea Eagles went into the game firm favourites. This certainly didn’t phase the Island as they started strongly in the first, leading IK by one goal at the first break. IK settled in the second quarter with Alex Burke (WD) driving the attack from defence and Julie Jackson (GS) converting well.
Stephanie Krainer (WD) for the Bulldogs and Libby Hutchinson (WA) were having a physical tussle in the mid court. IK up two goals at the main break. The third quarter opened up for IK, Alison Hayes (GA) was controlling the attacking end and feeding her GS, Jackson well and Burke was controlling the midcourt.
Just before three quarter time Hayes left the court with an injury, the Sea Eagles up six and looking in control of the match going into the last. The Island girls emerged from a vocal huddle and with raised intensity. They scored the first three goals of the quarter and the momentum looked to swing their way.
IK were missing Hayes, still off the court and Kate Kalis (GA) for Island had found another gear. She was goaling strongly and providing the defensive intensity from the Islands attacking end which had been missing.
The game back on level terms with under a minute to play and both teams having chances to grab a lead but the hooter sounded with both teams locked on 24 and headed for extra time. The heavens opened with a hail storm as the extra time started, Hayes back into GA for IK and they scored first. Kalis & Hayley Moxey (GS) were working hard in attack for the Island, but Rebecca Hawking (GD) and Tamara Crow (GK) were playing them tight. IK with a mini break of two and the Island couldn’t make it back. The Inverloch Kongwak girls ecstatic to hear the hooter and take the Premiership.
Best on Court Allison Hayes (IK). Best Players: Inverloch Kongwak – Allison Hayes & Alex Burke Phillip Island: Kate Kalis & Stephanie Krainer.
U17 – Bunyip 45 def Dalyston 43
Looking at results and previous form of both teams, the Bunyip girls looked to have this game well and truly in their favour. But the Dalyston girls winning their way into the Grand Final from fifth position and loving the underdog tag could not be under estimated. The weather improving and court drying out, allowed the game to start at fast pace. Both teams had towering and dominate goal shooters, Jasmin Mackie for Bunyip and Hayley Verboon for Dalyston, both came out firing, hardly missing a shot. Dalyston controlling the mid court a little better and up by four goals at the first change. The athletic Nat Dijkstra (GK) was playing her regular game, having a licence to fly for intercepts and pulling a number in. Chloe Bramley (GD) was also doing her thing for the Magpies, with an under estimated reach and fantastic game IQ she was making life hard for the Bunyip attackers. Dalyston up three at half time. Bunyip coach Ben Dixon swung the changes, India Crawford to C to match Abbey Kirk, who had been dominate, and Megan Preston to WA, paid divedends. The Bulldogs looking more settled and feeding Mackie with her favoured lob pass was working. Scores all level at 33 a piece going into the last.
The last quarter was high pressure netball with neither team giving an inch. It was goal for goal until the Magpies opened up a two goal break with around five minutes to play. The Bulldogs responded with Mackie being feed well from a centre pass and turnover that saw the game level again. Some great defence from Georgia King (GK) for Bunyip saw them get the chance they needed and the Bulldogs girls capitalised, holding on for a two goal victory and the Premiership.
Best on Court – Natalia Dijkstra (Bunyip). Best Players: Bunyip: Natalia Dijkstra & Jasmin Mackie Dalyston: Chloe Bramley & Hayley Verboon.
U15 – Phillip Island 20 def KB Giants 17
Although the Giants had the win in the Semi Final both sides knew it could have gone either way and this was going to be a very even match and was going to be a game where you needed to make the most of your opportunities. Korumburra Bena started strongly, especially in defence Erin Trewin (GD) and Ellie Newton (GK) incepting and repelling the first three attacking ends for the Island. The Giants up three at the first break. With rain coming down, the game was becoming a gritty affair. Ameile Wragg (GS) for the Island was making the most of her opportunities, while Zoe Patterson (GA) was working hard for the Giants, they couldn’t convert their chances, scoring one goal for the quarter. Phillip Island up nine to seven at half time. The Giants made change to their attacking in, Hayley Woolard into GA and Patterson back to GS. This looked a better set up for the Giants girls and they were peppering the ring with multiple chances but could not them to drop. Sunday Brisbane, the Islands inspirational captain, was leading by example for her team, dominating the mid court with her repeated drives and second efforts. The Island up one goal going into the last. The goals were hard to come by, both teams throwing everything into final quarter. Gracie Dempsey (GD) and Tayla Kleevan (GK) were making life very difficult for the Giants goalers with many deflections and fantastic defending. Abby Grabham (WD) was pushing hard out for defence into attack but the Giants couldn’t get the close enough of the scoreboard. Phillip Island three goal victors, the first netball premiership for the club since the early 90’s.
Best on Court – Sunday Brisbane (PI). Best Players: Phillip Island: Sunday Brisbane & Amelia Wragg Korumburra Bena: Zoe Patterson & Erin Trewin.
U13 Cora Lynn 24 def IK 13
A rematch from the Semi Final, Cora Lynn went into the match firm favourites but Inverloch took in some confidence from a strong win in the Prelim Final the week before. Cora Lynn jumped out of the blocks fast and settled the best, the dangerous Lexis Schade (GA) moving well and going early. The Cobras up two at the first change. The weather looked to be turning and the wind gusts were making goaling very difficult. Daphne Hodge (GA) for Inverloch Kongwak was coping the best in the conditions. Alahni Miles (GS) was rebounding any misses for Cobras, giving them the extra chance to score. Cora Lynn up four at the main break. The Sea Eagles made a number of changes to try get some combination to work. IK’s Abbey Dwyer to the C had a good match up with Jessie Prvulj. Despite their best efforts the IK girls couldn’t make any head way on the score board, especially with Schade shooting like it was dry conditions. The Cobras up nine and well in control going into the last quarter. Both teams made multiple player changes. The conditions became even worse, which slowed the game pace considerable, which was not what IK needed. Cora Lynn running out 11 goal victors and deserved Premiers having been dominant in the age group all year.
Best on Court – Lexis Schade (CL). Best Players: Cora Lynn – Lexis Schade & Michaela Hoppner. Inverloch Kongwak: Daphne Hodge & Tayla Cann.