"We knew we needed to communicate and stop and steady on the feed to Eliza."- Rhian Moresi - Skipton playing coach
Skipton produced a comeback for the ages at Alfredton Oval on Saturday afternoon to clinch its second Central Highlands Netball League A-grade flag in three years, overcoming reigning premier Springbank in a thrilling final quarter.
From the get-go it was clear both side’s tall targets would play a pivotal role. The ever-reliable Eliza Dwyer was a force at the post for Skipton, with Rhian Moresi and Sophie Pattison finding creative avenues to their shooter.
Meanwhile at the other end Cynna Kydd was unstoppable, having a hand in the centre court while playing lead inside the arc. The efficiency of the Tigers paid dividends as they took a narrow lead into the first break.
Experience came to the fore in the second term as the reigning premier began to find its rhythm. Kelly Conroy and Kydd linked up well in attack in an explosive five minute patch while the Tigers’ back three went into lock-down, frustrating the Emus into turnovers.
In the highly physical affair it was the Tigers who had the upper hand heading into the main break, however with just four goals separating the sides the game was far from won.
The third term opened with a shoot-out as both sides went on the offence. An important intercept by Marlie Boyd in midway through the quarter provided the spark for the Emus as the intensity of the contest rose again.
Mistakes began to creep in towards the back end of the term as the pace of the fixture took its toll. A steady hand from Dwyer helped Skipton to stay composed, getting within one goal at the final break.
With the addition of fresh legs Amy Conroy and Thea Hinchcliffe on the court the Tigers were able to wrestle control of the match, reeling off consecutive goals early to put the margin out to five. While it looked as though the lead might balloon out in favour of Springbank, the reigning premier was unable to inflict the final blow on a Skipton side who refused to go away.
As the rain began to fall the women in red, white and blue stepped it up a notch, applying a rigorous man-on-man defence which had the Tigers rattled.
Sarah Maroney and Liz Williams were able to make their presence felt in the back third by taking a number of crucial intercepts for the Emus, while mid-court players Erin Ross, Boyd and Pattison found another gear.
With the Skipton faithful sensing a comeback the crowd volume lifted, as Dwyer put the Emus in the lead with just minutes to spare. The Emus were then able to hold their nerves to clinch the victory 60-58.
Playing coach Moresi said she was thrilled with the way her charges were able to lift at the crucial moment.
“The last two weeks we’ve found that our nerves have crept in, so we knew we needed to communicate and stop and steady on the feed to Eliza, and I think it helps because we rely on Eliza we’ve practiced it so many times.”
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