Another chance at finals glory

September 15, 2017

The ball just finds its way past Lakers goaler Bianca Willis and in to the hands of Avenel’s Kate Bishop.

Avenel’s Jess Hogan and Nagambie’s Sarah O’Sullivan leap to take possession of the ball.

Avenel goaler Tegan Sidebottom was a welcome addition back in to the side from injury on Saturday.

Bianca Willis prepares to goal for Nagambie but Avenel’s Kate Bishop and Naomi Slade put the pressure on.

Avenel’s Nat Fletcher and Nagambie’s Katie Sullivan had a good duel in the midcourt.

Niki Lord puts up the shot for Avenel while Rachael Mundy defends for the Lakers.

Erin Engel takes possession for Avenel in front of Sarah O’Sullivan.

Nagambie has stormed home to secure a place in the grand final after a thrilling semi-final clash against Avenel on Saturday.

The Lakers shot 19 goals to eight in the final quarter to complete an unpredictable 12-goal victory in an otherwise tightly contested match.

Avenel hung with the Lakers for three quarters, thanks to the services of Kate Bishop as goal keeper and Naomi Slade in goal defence, but couldn’t hold on until the final whistle.

The Swans trailed by just one goal at quarter-time but Nagambie looked to be in control of the game.

The Lakers edged their way out to a four-goal lead at half-time but failed to capitalise on a lot of their chances.

‘‘Looking at our statistics we were having about 17-20 attempts on goal in each quarter, but we weren’t converting as well,’’ Nagambie coach Abby Misiti said.

‘‘We had a lot of the ball but we missed some goals, made some poor decisions and threw the ball away.’’

Vicky Bester turned the ball over consistently for the Lakers and showed great leadership in defence but Nagambie failed to convert a lot of these opportunities.

The Lakers had a total of 15 turnovers in the third quarter but only converted three of those into goals.

Avenel ground away to bring the game back to within a goal but struggled to run out the game beyond three-quarter time.

‘‘I think our focus at the start of the game was to play netball but I think in the last quarter our fitness and having fresh legs off the bench really showed,’’ Misiti said.

Misiti made some smart rotations, switching Bianca Willis into goal attack in order to give Sharni Lloyd a rest as goal shooter.

Sarah O’Sullivan provided some fresh legs in wing attack and brought a lot of drive to the Nagambie attack.

‘‘Bianca and Sharni missed only one goal out of 20 attempts in that final quarter,’’ Misiti said.

‘‘To go out and shoot 19 goals to finish off the game really rewarded our defenders for all their hard work.

‘‘Everything just came together in that last quarter.’’

Avenel coach Tegan Hansen felt her side put on a really positive performance despite the loss.

‘‘To be in the game like that for three quarters and to really match it with Nagambie is really promising for the rest of the finals series,’’ Hansen said.

‘‘There were some basic errors that really cost us, some poor passes and offsides, and that was enough for Nagambie to take advantage.’’

Hansen said if there’s one thing the Swans have learned this year, it’s been persistence and resilience,

With an injury list long enough to nearly field a team, Avenel has had to dig deep this season.

Erin Engel, who played well in wing attack before injuring her knee against Nagambie on Saturday, will join that list alongside Kathryn Hard, Laura Mundy, Sarah Brock and Hansen.

Hansen expects to field at least eight players in their preliminary final clash against Tallygaroopna on Saturday.

‘‘The one thing that the girls really have nailed down is that belief and if we have seven people out on the court doing their job we know we can win games,’’ Hansen said.

‘‘We have dropped a couple of games to Nagambie and Tallygaroopna this season but finals are always a different story.

‘‘If the girls can play out four quarters then I think they should be very confident going into the game.’’

Nagambie should be feeling confident as well with the weekend’s win against Avenel under their belt.

‘‘Finals netball is always a bit different,’’ Misiti said.

‘‘Last year we beat Avenel in every game but lost to them in the grand final.

‘‘We have a very different team now compared to 2015 and 2016 but I know our senior players who were there — Bianca, Katie and myself — will all be pretty keen to redeem ourselves after last year’s loss.’’

The Lakers will face the winner of this week’s preliminary final between Avenel and Tallygaroopna.

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