East Point prevailed in thrilling circumstances to clinch its first-ever Ballarat Football Netball League A-grade netball premiership, defeating North Ballarat City 54-52 in extra-time.
The Kangaroos stood up in the big moments of the game to bury its finals demons that had seen it stumble numerous times throughout its recent finals. Having been knocked out in last year’s semi-final following back-to-back preliminary final exits in 2014 and 2013.
East Point, which had lost just one game coming into the grand final, made the early running scoring seven of the first nine goals and led by four at the quarter-time break.
Over the next two quarters the reigning premiers would work its way back into the match - and then some – to lead by one goal at the main change and then five at three quarter-time.
The final term was an enthralling display of netball as the Kangaroos fought back hard. The two sides went goal for goal late in the match before scores were locked up at 39 goals apiece as the final whistle sounded.
East Point coach Sascha Veldhuis‘s message was a simple, but clear.
“It was about getting them in quickly and refocusing. Because we had made quite a comeback to get to that point, it was important that we didn’t go flat after that,” Veldhuis said.
East Point continued to play inspired netball but as expected North Ballarat City were equal to the task, after the first six-minute half of extra-time the Roos led 45-44.
A frantic final few minutes saw both sides move the ball and convert goals at an elite level given the unrivalled pressure and intensity that engulfed the 14 players.
With scores tied up at 52 goals, an ice-cool Lauren Jew calmly gave East Point a one-goal lead as City took the centre. Jordyn Bibby, who was named best-on-court following an outstanding display of shooting, sent her shot just off target and a familiar rebound from star goal keeper Kate McLeod provided the match-winning turnover.
East Point transitioned the ball to Jew who scored the side’s 54th goal with seconds to spare and as the ball sailed through the net the whistle sounded moments later to the elation of the Kangaroos.
Veldhuis said the group’s belief was crucial in the two-goal triumph.
I was just saying to the girls make sure we believe and trust in each other.
“At stages in that third quarter where we got down by five or six goals, I was just saying to the girls make sure we believe and trust in each other.
“We’d spoken a bit about that in the game, that no matter what the situation of the game that if we believe and trust in each other that we can get there, we’ll get there in the end.”
Veldhuis was extremely happy with the side’s ability to stand up in the big moments of the grand final, none more so than the two goalers, Jew and Emma Farrell, who shot beautifully throughout the match and in the clutch moments of extra-time.