By Romy Stephens
WEST GIPPSLAND FOOTBALL NETBALL COMPETITION
NETBALL GRAND FINAL REVIEWS
Saturday’s grand final day at Garfield was complete with history-making wins, nailbiting battles, cold and wet conditions and one club completely dominating the competition.
In its first season competing in the West Gippsland Football Netball Competition, Tooradin-Dalmore won all three open grade grand finals and proved it is now the benchmark of the competition.
Hard-fought wins for the C Grade and B Grade sides were soon topped off with a clinical display from the Seagulls’ A Grade lineup.
The side’s experience helped it overcome a youthful Dalyston outfit, 47-37, in the top division.
Similar to the netball that had been on display throughout the entire day, the game started with a tussle between both sides.
Dalyston was on song during the early stages of the game, with Tooradin-Dalmore getting plenty of turnovers early but unable to convert in attack.
But towards the end of the first quarter, the Seagulls started to ease into the game and connect throughout the entire court.
Particularly impressive was the Seagulls’ attacking end, led by best-on-court Jessica Cox and captain Alex Duff.
The likes of exciting defenders Alana McRae and Gemma Thomas worked hard to limit the Seagulls’ supply in the goal ring, but it wasn’t enough to disrupt their experienced opposition.
The Seagulls took a six-goal lead into half-time and, despite a continual fight from the Magpies during the second half, they managed to extend the margin out to 10 goals by the final siren.
The club’s B Grade side also devastated Dalyston as it secured a nailbiting 46-44 win in a fierce contest.
At half-time, there was nothing separating the two sides with both scoring 22 goals each.
The pressure of the game was evident during the second half with both sides showing signs of frustration and the crowd getting louder as the game went on.
It wasn’t until the dying stages of the final quarter that the Seagulls were able to edge in front and steal the win.
Stacey Sawyer’s impressive performance in the midcourt earned her best-on-court.
Meanwhile, the Seagulls’ C Grade side recorded a 31-26 win over Bunyip.
In what was another rollercoaster contest, the lead continually flipped between the two sides throughout most of the game and fittingly, scores were level heading into the final quarter.
But an impressive 7-3 goal final term saw the Seagulls overrun their devastated opponents.
Sharna O’Dwyer was heavily influential throughout the midcourt and was awarded best-on-court.
Tooradin-Dalmore head coach Kelly Andrews said the club’s success this year comes down to a change in mindset from the players.
“The last two years has been that flipped mentally… we actually do have to work hard, you can’t just rely on your skill,” she said.
“You’ve got to get to training early, do your sprints, get fit, put your shots up and do it for the team.”
She said this year’s trifecta has come off the back of some tough years for the club.
“This club has worked so hard for so many years. When I first went there, their A Grade came off a season of not winning a game,” she said.
“We’ve worked really hard over the past three or four years, developing what we’ve got.
“Last year our B Grade bombed out in prelim and our C Grade lost the grand final.
“They just keep getting better every single year.”
But Kelly admitted the club will need to continue blooding younger players to keep its dominance over younger clubs such as Dalyston.
“They’ve got a really young list and we’ve got a really old one. Sometimes that age does play out in your favour,” she said.
“In the next couple of years, I think we’re going to have to work really hard to fend them off.”
In another history-making win, Cora Lynn’s 13-and-under side won its third premiership in a row after it barely got over the line 17-15 against Phillip Island.
The netball was somewhat reflective of the day’s weather conditions, with momentum ebbing and flowing as sporadic showers continued to influence the game.
The game was all tied up heading into the first break before a spirited second quarter saw the Cobras edge in front by two-goals at half-time.
Despite a gallant fight from the Bulldogs, in the end, it was the reigning premiers – influenced by Sienna Morley’s best-on-court performance – that held their nerve and stole the win.
In other grand final results, Kooweerup came from behind to upset Dalyston 27-25 in the 15-and-under decider, while Inverloch Konwak became the 17-and-under premiers with a 30-20 win over Phillip Island.