SPRINGBANK held on by just one goal to win successive Central Highlands Netball League A grade titles in a bruising battle against Dunnstown on Saturday.
In a fierce match at the Northern Oval that had the whole crowd roaring in the final quarter, the Tigers held out a fast-finishing Towners, 34 to 33, with Dunnstown coach and goal attack Leesa Battistello throwing a desperate long bomb at the goals as the final siren sounded that failed to drop in.
The game went goal for goal early, with both defences holding firm.
Dunnstown started to edge away with sleeker, faster play through centre Johanna Dash while Springbank struggled to feed its goalers Leanne Birkett and Casey Johnstone.
However, the Tigers started to click and held a one goal lead, 12 to 11, at the first break.
No changes were made to either side, who both started to make more errors in the second quarter, with loose balls intercepted all over the court.
Dunnstown goal shooter Kirsten Phyland rarely missed in this stanza, but the score was still one goal in the Tigers’ favour at half-time, 21-20.
Rain in the third quarter made conditions slippery, stopping the run of both sides.
Dunnstown’s Katrina Griffiths came on at wing defence and immediately made a difference but Springbank was still strong all over the court, with Kellie Sommerville and Dash having an engrossing duel in the centre and the height of defenders Emma Sommerville and Marney O’Brien making life hard for the Towner’s goalers.
Springbank captain Leanne Birkett also moved out to goal attack, providing a spark around the court.
Dash’s intercepts kept Dunnstown in the game and a Battistello goal on the three-quarter time siren again had the scores just one goal the difference, 28 to 27.
In the final quarter, Springbank headed out to a three goal lead, with its defenders taking vital rebounds and wing defence Kelly Conroy active, but Dunnstown got itself back into the game with a few quick goals to even the score.
The height and agility of Dunnstown goal keeper Kate McLeod started to be a headache for the Tigers’ goalers as they tried to stave off the Towners attack.
However, a goal to Birkett late in the final term sealed the deal, making Springbank the premiers and champions for 2013.
During the presentations, captain Birkett paid tribute to their opponents.
“It was the hardest bloody game we’ve had all season,” she said.
Coach Garth Kydd said he expected Dunnstown to come out hard and fast.
“I’ve been saying all along they were the dark horse of the competition,” he said.
“We expected it to be that hard but our girls never put their heads down, they just kept their heads up.”