Ballan, Clunes in defensive CHNL showdown for crucial result | Photos

While the score may flatter Ballan, an A-grade battle against Clunes at home on Saturday marked one of the toughest games for both teams in the Central Highlands Netball League season.

TOP EFFORT: Jessica Snaith for Ballan during a must-win battle against Clunes, where both teams stepped up in the race towards finals. Picture: Luka Kauzlaric

TOP EFFORT: Jessica Snaith for Ballan during a must-win battle against Clunes, where both teams stepped up in the race towards finals. Picture: Luka Kauzlaric

With little separation on the ladder and a top eight spot up for grabs, Ballan player-coach Narelle Perkins said the end score, 30-19, did not resemble the game, but the team was relieved to come away with four points.

“It is coming to the crucial end of the season and every four points counts at this point,” she said.

“We got a really good start to the game, but their defence and their press was really strong and it shut down a lot of our players. Credit to my girls, they just kept chipping away and kept their heads, so I think that is what actually won us the game.”

Perkins said Brittany Hitchings was outstanding, playing the game of her life in the goal keeper role for the four quarters. But the victory also came down to a united effort across the court.

“It wasn’t our prettiest game but we kept pushing and trusted in the process, which got us over the line,” she said. “I’m a strong believer that you can have seven skilled players on the court, but unless you play as a team that grand final isn’t in your sights.”

With Caitlyn McPhee out with a broken ankle, Ballan now has a shorter defence.

“I have full confidence in the squad that I have and we have a lot of depth with some young ones coming through,” Perkins said.

“We’re rallying as a team, which is at the perfect time.”