Shooting Stars are the winners of the A grade Wagga netball competition after beating minor premiers, Uranquinty, 45-43, in one of the most closely contested grand finals in the last decade.
While there was, at one stage during the first quarter, a margin as big as five goals between the teams, the second half was so close, that there was not, at any time a margin greater than two.
After Olivia Lang, the hero of the previous Saturday’s preliminary final win, potted the first goal of the match for Shooting Stars, the Uranquinty shooters, Hannah Finemore and Lana Duffy, netted six consecutive goals to take an early lead in the game.
However, the Stars fought back and with goal defence, Jemima Norbury, calling the play, Jenee West everywhere in the centre and goal attack, Stacey Curran, finding the net regularly, they diminished that margin to a solitary goal at quarter-time.
Lang, who was either injured, and/or lacking in confidence was not the same dominant player of the previous week and frequently passed off to Curran to have the goal shots.
Much credit must be given to her opponent, Brooke Tilyard, who, although giving away centimetres to Lang, was using her guile well in defending the potential match-winner.
West and Norbury continued to star for the Stars and Hayley Stevens was an important player at wing defence.
Uranquinty’s better performers in the opening half were wing defence, Tameka Scott, centre, Olivia Tilyard and goal attack, Duffy.
With the score at 20-all at half-time, it was a case of ‘start again” in the challenge for the trophy.
Uranquinty chose to stick with the starting seven to play out at least the third quarter, while the Stars brought on substitutes, Brodie Jaques and Flynn Hogg to replace the experience Michelle Forrell and Lang, respectively. Then, in a slight shuffle of the line-up, coach, McLachlan placed Curran at goal shooter and the youngster, Hogg, at goal attack.
The changes paid off almost immediately, as the Stars scored the first two goals of the second half to go ahead by that margin.
After missing her first two shots at goal, Hogg netted seven of her next nine attempts, while Curran recorded a ‘perfect’ five from five, giving the Stars a one-goal advantage entering the final quarter.
Equally effective in the third term were the Quinty shooters who converted 11 of their 13 shots at goal.
Olivia Tilyard continued to play well for the Greens with great support from Duffy and the Finemore sisters, Hannah and Ella.
West, Norbury and Curran continued to steer the ship well for the Stars, whilst the introduction of the ‘fresh-legs’, Jaques and Hogg proved to be successful.
After the first 11 goals of the final term were netted, the scores were level. The lead, of never more than two, fluctuated over that period.
After the next 11 goals, the scores were still level as the teams traded goals. The Stars, with shooters Hogg and Curran, converting at almost 87 per cent, hit the lead with minutes remaining.
The large crowd became loudly vocal in their support as they looked to Uranquinty to score again and even it all up, perhaps enforcing extra time to be played. But it was the Stars who scored again to give them a 45-43 grand final win.
It had been a ‘grand’ final, and the Shooting Stars can be rightly proud of their second premiership win, after a dismal performance in last season’s grand final won by New Kids Aces.
Uranquinty, while disappointed, can be proud of their efforts this season, losing only two of 13 games. Their youth certainly suggests they will be a power over the next few seasons.
Shooting Stars centre, Jenee West was awarded the ‘best on court’ award for her fine performance
GRAND FINAL RESULTS
A grade: Shooting Stars 45 d Uranquinty 43
Best: (Shooting Stars) Jenee West (best on court), Stacey Curran, Jemima Norbury; (Uranquinty) Olivia Tilyard, Lana Duffy, Ella Finemore
A reserve: New Kids Knockouts 41 d Panthers 33
Best: (New Kids Knockouts) Zahli Mereton, Sidney Gillard, Georgina Noack; (Panthers) Bonnie Higgins, Amanda Plum, Tamika Raufers
B grade: Shooting Stars Jaques and Co. 44 d Shooting Stars Hoggies 29
Best: (Shooting Stars Jacques and Co) Tess Flinn, Jacinta Rodham, Sophie Perrett; (Shooting Stars Hoggies) Erin Hands, Morgan Nabkey, Samantha Wilkinson
B2 grade: Pacers 34 d New Kids Eagles 28
Best: (Pacers) Lara Coughlin, Cathy Edwards, Jess Keemink; (New Kids Eagles) Molly Carter, Sharnie Moore, Kirsty Wendt
C grade: Turvey Park 35 d Shooting Stars Cruisers 34
Best: (Turvey Park) Rebecca Matthews, Renay Power, Bridget Pike; (Shooting Stars Cruisers) Christie Harrison, Sarah Moon, Emily Weir
18 years: New Kids Angels 40 d Uranquinty Amethysts 21
Best: (New Kids Angels) Savannah Williams, Imogen Robertson, Ella Fellows; (Uranquinty Amethysts) Molly Devries, Cleo Randal, Bec Meyers
16 years division one: New Kids Pumas 47 d Shooting Stars 34
Best: (New Kids Pumas) Phoebe Duncombe, Maddy Lucas, Lily Buchanan; (Shooting Stars) Bronwyn Pearce, Olivia Fawns, Claudia Lawrence
16 years division two: Kooringal Maroon 36 d Kooringal Black 23
Best: (Kooringal Maroon) Jacinta Cooper, Jessica Knox, Annabelle Mortensen; (Kooringal Black) Monique McKinley, Sophie Cooper, Sarah Meiklejohn
16 years division three: New Kids Sapphires 35 d New Kids Joss 32
Best: (New Kids Sapphires) Madeline Boyle, Molly Geale, Nicola Harrington; (New Kids Joss) Amelia Rosss, Maria Flaskas, Makenna Irlam
14 years division one: Shooting Stars Jets 35 d Kooringal Blue 28
Best: (Shooting Stars Jets) Georgia Hallam, Ruby Gillard, Maddi Burkinshaw; (Kooringal Blue) Eliza Kelly, Bridie Delahunty, Claire Allen
14 years division two: Turvey Park Blossoms 38 d Shooting Stars Fevers 25
Best: (Turvey Park Blossoms) Caitlin Dunn, Bridie Sheridan, Montana Dasey, Hannah Kellam; (Shooting Stars Fevers) Olivia Howard, Lilly Hodgson, Indy Waring
14 years division three: New Kids Wildcats 32 d Nixons Diamonds 22
Best: (New Kids Wildcats) Alice McLoughlin, Eve Conlan, Kendall Wales; (Nixons Diamonds) Amali Fitzhenry, Molly Livio, Taylah Whytcross