A hard fought win for the Divas in the Cobar Netball Association grand final on Saturday gave them their third A Grade title in as many seasons.
Both the A Grade match between Divas and Pumpettes, and the B Grade contest between Hot Shots and Mystics, were highly entertaining games with Divas winning in extra time 57-44 while Hot Shots caused an upset with their 47-31 win over match favourites Mystics.
The A Grade game showcased the superior skills of both sides and the 44-all result at the end of 60 minutes of play demonstrated just how close these two teams had been all season.
After taking a five goals lead at the end of the first quarter, the Divas stumbled slightly in the second quarter and surrendered control to the Pumpettes who led 25-20 at half time.
Pumpettes still had the upper hand at three quarter time and with accurate shooting from Renee Matheson and Emma Barton, they were up by four points.
However as has been the case over the season (and the past three seasons), the Divas proved they are fighters and played their way back into the match with sensational shooting by Corinne McLeod and Lisa Travis.
Player of the Grand Final, Jenna Fullagar played a big part in Divas’ win.
Playing one quarter at Wing Attack, Fullagar fed the circle well giving McLeod and Travis plenty of great passes which they quickly converted.
Fullagar played with great intensity throughout the game, but it was in the 14 minutes of extra time playing at Wing Defence that she really shined, getting numerous tips and intercepts.
After clawing their way back into the match in the final quarter, the Divas continued their momentum in extra time sinking the first two shots before Matheson (eight goals) and Travis (eight goals) went tit-for-tat at either end of the court.
Fullagar had two tips and turned the ball over twice in extra time for the Divas which ultimately led to their win.
After the match the Divas concurred the 2016 grand final win had by far been their toughest win yet.
“We kept cool heads and played our game and had patience,” Divas’ captain Demi Smith said had been the secret to their win.
Pumpettes’ captain Renee Matheson, overcome with emotion after the game, said it had been “a great game between two equally deserving teams”.
“I don’t think we left anything on the court.
“We’ve never seen a game like that in finals in Cobar. We are determined to come back next year,” she said.
After having previously beaten Hot Shots 51-34 only two weeks ago in the Cobar Netball Association B Grade semi final, the Mystics went into Saturday’s grand final game as the short priced favourites.
They weren’t however prepared for the red hot Hot Shots team who quickly raced away with a 6-0 lead thanks to sensational shooting by Gabbi Lennon, who hands down earned the Player of the Grand Final title.
The Mystics finally got on the board but a very confident Hot Shots outfit owned the game from start to end.
Leading 22-10 at halftime, the Hot Shots’ game plan was working well and remained the same throughout.
Lennon continued to position herself well in the circle linking up with Goal Attack Rachael Hadkins and Wing Attack Georgie Chaplain to keep the score ticking over.
Down the other end of the court defenders Cheryl Lewington and Alice Flynn were doing a great job of rattling Mystics’ shooters and pounced on any and every rebound they could.
The strong Hot Shots’ mid court, led by Lydia Wells playing at Centre, quickly sent any turnovers down to their shooters.
The Mystics were forced to re-adjust their plan each quarter looking for new attacking combinations that could stop Hot Shots’ domination.
Mystics also lost defender Casey Piggott to an ankle injury in the third quarter and were forced to once again change up their player combinations.
When Rebekkah Harris went to Centre, she did help to strengthen Mystics midcourt and then when she linked with Natalie Barnes (GD), they slowed some of the one-way traffic down.
The Mystics threw everything they had into the final quarter however Hot Shots could smell success and determinedly shut down the Mystics’ late rally and went on to confidently win by a big 16 goals margin, 47-31.