By Romy Stephens
OUTER EAST NETBALL
DIVISION 1 REVIEW – GRAND FINALS
A big day of grand final netball action at Woori Yallock on Sunday finished with the most thrilling clash of the day in the Division 1 A Grade.
As Mount Evelyn and Monbulk took to the court for the much-anticipated grand final, a sea of spectators rolled in to cheer on their sides.
And those watching on sure were treated to a spectacle.
The hard-fought 32-39 victory for the Rovers was reflective of the high-intensity netball that was on display for the entire game.
Finals nerves appeared to strike both sides early with a few turnovers at each end of the court seeing nothing separate the two at quarter-time ﹘ both scoring eight goals each.
An enthralling battle between Mobulk’s star goal shooter Stephanie Puopolo and Mount Evelyn coach and goal keeper Kaitlyn Black ramped up during the second term.
But it was the Rovers’ defender that used her height to capitalise on missed shots at goal, with her numerous rebounds helping the Rovers take a one-goal lead into half-time.
The fierce battle continued throughout the second half as both sides caused havoc in defence and sparked plenty of turnovers.
However, the patience of the Rovers soon started to pay off. They took their time working it into the goal ring and extended their lead out to four goals by the end of the third quarter.
But a last-minute wave of momentum from the Hawks during the final term soon brought the crowd into the game and the pressure intensified.
The Hawks reduced the margin to within two goals and looked as though they were going to come back and steal the win.
But the characteristic patience of the Rovers that was on display all day allowed them to hold on until the final siren sounded.
Mount Evelyn coach Kaitlyn Black ﹘ who was also the league best and fairest ﹘ said that despite beating Monbulk every time they met this season, she knew the grand final win was going to be a tough task.
“It’s just surreal, I can’t put into words,” she said.
“We’ve beaten them five out of five times now but we just knew everything had to fall our way for that to happen, it wasn’t going to be an easy walkover.
“For us to hold our nerve there at the end, I’m so proud of the girls.”
The win marked a breakthrough season for the Rovers, who didn’t make finals last year.
Kaitlyn attributed the turnaround to consistency throughout the entire season.
“Last year we had a squad of nine and then we lost two girls and I got pulled out due to a different league and we were constantly having to fill spots on the court,” she said.
“When we got our full team back at the end of the year we won all of our games but it was too little too late.
“This year, we just had the same eight girls every week and it just made a huge difference.
“Everyone knew how to play together and wanted to be there for each other.”
It seemed the best finals action was saved for the end of the day with the Division 1 B Grade also going down to the wire.
In the end, it was Pakenham who got the 42-40 win against ROC, but it wasn’t without a scare.
The Lions led at every break and somehow withstood a fierce comeback from the Kangaroos in the final term.
Mid court star Rebecca Morris showed off her speed by coming from nowhere to collect a number of intercepts and as a result, was awarded best on court.
Despite such a big win in the B Grade, the Lions couldn’t continue the celebrations in some of the other grades.
In the Division 1 C Grade, Doveton defeated Pakenham 23-12 while ROC secured a convincing 10-goal win over Pakenham the D Grade.
ROC also got over the line in the 17 & Under grand final with a 28-26 win over Narre Warren.
In the 15 & Under Beaconsfield dismantled Narre Warren 35-20.
Despite the loss, the Magpies were able to celebrate the clubs Under 13 win against Cranbourne.
For the rest of the premiership winning shots, including best on courts, pick up a copy of next week’s Gazette.