BALLARAT Grammar girls claimed the Herald Sun Shield final in dramatic circumstances, holding on in the dying stages to win by one point against Methodist Ladies College 5.3 (33) to 4.8 (32) at Craigieburn on Saturday.
Grammar were outstanding early, holding MLC scoreless in the first term while kicking 3.2 itself. Before MLC responded to get on the board early in the second, but only made marginal inroads to the deficit – trailing by 15 points at half-time.
Methodist Ladies College continued its charge but were wasteful in the third term missing some golden opportunities, with Ballarat Grammar holding on to a slim lead going into the last quarter.
Nickesha Jones kicked Grammar’s fifth goal and her fourth for the day to extend the margin before MLC booted the next two and cut the margin to two points.
In a nail-biting final two minutes, MLC missed a shot on goal then sprayed a snap out of bounds before the siren sounded to the joy of Ballarat Grammar as it claimed its second division one Herald Sun Shield in three years. Redeeming itself after last year’s grand final loss to MLC.
Grammar captain Rene Caris was best afield, dominating in the ruck while Nickesha Jones made her presence felt after missing the semi-final to kick four majors.
Grammar had not been tested in the lead up to the grand final and coach Matt Hanlon was impressed with the girls ability to hold their nerve under pressure and execute accordingly.
“(It was) pretty unfamiliar territory for our girls, they’ve been comprehensive winners all year, they did amazing to keep their cool,” Hanlon said.
“We knew it was going to come down to 18 contributors, that was a big message before the game and every break. And it worked out that way, I think that was the difference in the end.”
The message from Hanlon was clear throughout the day – “work rate”.
At three quarter-time he reinforced that message and injected some fresh legs through the midfield to handle the MLC revival. Hanlon was proud of his charges and said the run of success was credit to the group’s commitment to school football.
“I just asked the girls to try and cover more ground and get back and help the back line and when it went our way really run forward - just that work rate.
“We knew every minute was going to count, it was just a reminder at three quarter-time that what we committed to before the game we had to finish off. A long season of training in the depths of Ballarat winter and that’s why we do it, a last quarter like that. It was very rewarding for the girls.”
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