East Point has firmed as the favourite to take out the 2016 Ballarat Football Netball League A-grade flag after grinding past North Ballarat City in a physical qualifying final battle.
The minor premier held bragging rights over the 2015 champions after inflicting City’s first loss of the season in round 15, and was again on the front foot from the first whistle., shooting out to an early lead by the end of the first term.
In the centre-court battle City refused to go away, with the likes of Stacey McCartin and Olivia Jones working hard to deliver to tall target Jordyn Bibby and the industrious Gina McCartin as the margin tightened heading into the main break.
As the wind began to pick up in the second half the intensity rose, with East’s lead continually threatening to blow out. Experienced goaler Emma Farrell was able to stand up when it counted, shooting truly in the final term as the Kangaroos ran home six-goal victors.
East Point playing-coach Sascha Veldhuis said her side’s defensive effort in shutting down Bibby played a big part in the success.
“Our focus was about blocking their penetration going into the attacking third and stopping their feed because Jordyn is such a fierce competitor,” Veldhuis said. “We thought if we stuck with it and forced turnovers we would get the result.”
Kate Mcleod played a big role for the Kangaroos as goalkeeper, while Bethany Smith and Kate Martin both provided pivotal run off the bench.
Veldhuis said the victory had given the group the confidence to go all the way following a disappointing 2015 finals campaign.
They will now face off against Lake Wendouree for a fast-tracked entry into the grand final, after the Lakers overcame a spirited Sebastopol outfit.
The third-placed Lakers had to work hard to get the better of the Burra, with just six goals separating the two sides.
Burra playing-coach Georgia Cann was on-song for the underdogs, shooting her 28 goals at 94 per cent accuracy, however the leadership from experienced heads Kirsty Walsh and Melanie Allen was enough to get the Lakers over the line.
Meanwhile, North Ballarat City will have to take on Ballarat after the Swans saw off Sunbury by three goals in Sunday’s elimination final.
Ballarat led all afternoon, with Kelly Moran, Ellen Werts and Ruby Wilson taking charge.
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