Junior netballers in grand final

Junior netballers in grand final

Orbost Snowy faces Wy Yung in the East Gippsland 17 and under netball grand final this Saturday at Bairnsdale City Oval.

The Blues booked their spot in the last dance with a pulsating three-goal win over Stratford in the preliminary final and coach, Helen Nixon, can’t wait for the big day.

“It is very exciting to make it this far,” she said.

“A lot of the girls have made preliminary finals before, but to make it to get through to the grand final is very exciting.

“There was a lot of emotion on the court after the win over the Swans in the prelim. The girls are very proud to have made it this far.

“There have been a few hiccups during the regular season, but now we can’t wait to try and bring a flag back to Orbost.

“Some of the girls have played in grand finals in other grades, but I am sure they will be nervous so we just have to channel that energy into a great game.”

Helen was stunned by the support her side has gotten from the community. “There was a huge crowd at training last week and down there for the game and I guess there will be even more this week for the grand final,” she said.

“All the other grades have been brilliant.”

Despite the Tigers having a near perfect record, Helen is confident her side can win.

“Wy Yung only lost one game against Stratford, who we beat in the prelim,” she said.

“In the two previous encounters we got closer to them, apart from that win, than any other team did all year. We pushed them earlier in the season before falling by six goals and recently we led at stages, but went down by three.

“If we keep our consistency up all game we will win.

“Consistency has been our only issue this year. We’d play three quarters of beautiful netball, but we’d tend to panic when the opposition makes a charge.

“Against Stratford we did panic, but we pulled together and won.

“If we play consistently for four quarters I think we will do it”.

In the 17 and under preliminary final, tensions were running high in the first term and while there was some fierce competition, Orbost Snowy had the edge at the break after it converted all of its centre passes.

In the first few minutes of the second stanza the Blues faltered, but steadied and capitalised on the Swan’s mistakes, managing to extend their lead at half time.

At the last break Orbost Snowy held a seven-goal lead thanks to a renewed focus in the third quarter.

A couple of quick goals by Stratford at the start of the last term rattled the Blues and as their lead was pegged back, panic set in with some mistakes creating further opportunities for the Swans.

For a five-minute period neither side could score as both side’s defensive pressure lifted, creating held balls, steps, errant passes and fumbles.

Eventually, the Swan’s scored their fifth consecutive score for the quarter, however the Blues dug deep and shot the next goal, settling their nerves and allowing them to regain control of the match, and win by three goals.

Captain, Tully Humphreys, was outstanding, attacking the ball, shooting with amazing confidence and accuracy and defending tightly, which earned her a best on court performance.

Humphreys and Molly Bills combined to create a dynamic shooting outfit that the Swan’s defenders struggled to contain. Bills’ defensive work through the centre court was pivotal to the Blues, but unfortunately the warmth of the day resulted in her contracting a migraine, so she was unable play out the final quarter.

In defence Courtney Wade and Hannah Kriek caused havoc for Stratford’s shooters, applying incredible pressure in the defensive circle and down the court. This resulted in turnovers, which the Blues were able to capitalise on often.

Angelina Battel, who recently returned from an ankle injury and was a little bit sore, dominated in wing attack, driving strongly and making beautiful space on the ring.

Libby Clay played a measured and patient quarter in centre before replacing Battel in wing attack, moving the ball into attack well.

Sarah Young starred in wing defence, restricting her opponent’s influence on the game by playing cleanly and tightly, while at the same time providing an option to transition the ball into attack.

Her switch to goal shooter in the last was initially shaky, but the ball was soon sticking, and her confidence grew as she teamed beautifully with Humphreys. Taylah Russell took the wing defence bib, and played a very different style, but was equally as important as Young, attacking the ball and forcing errant passes.

Jemma Shanahan ran the length of the court in centre, applying pressure, creating space and linking the defensive and attacking ends.

Fifteen and under netballers, Anna Quinsey Munro and Olivia Borley, didn’t take the court, but were inspiring with their encouraging voices from the bench urging their teammates to success.

PICTURED: Courtney Wade’s pressure will be important for Orbost Snowy when it takes on Wy Yung in the East Gippsland 17 and under netball grand final this Saturday.