Super effort earns shot at title
ST Albans has earned a long-overdue crack at a GFL netball premiership after downing South Barwon by eight goals in Saturday’s preliminary final.
With a licence to play aggressive and instinctive netball, the Supersaints pulled away in the final quarter to win 61-53, turning the tables on their 17-goal loss to the Swans a fortnight ago.
South Barwon was forced to adjust in the second quarter when captain Ainsley Corrigan suffered an achilles injury.
Coach Nicole Richardson praised her side’s ability to be “smarter with the delivery of the ball and a lot more patient in attack”, providing many opportunities for star shooter Tharjini Sivalingam.
“We worked it onto the circle edge, closer in the ring, ‘Genie’ was strong in the circle,” Richardson said.
“We knew it was going to come down to the team that executed and the team that could value the ball more.”
Starved of recent finals success, the Supersaints seized their opportunity by leading at every break before standing up when it counted in the last quarter.
“That’s how we treated this game, we had nothing to lose and we’ve got to put it all out on the line,” Richardon said.
“I want the girls to play without a leash, and let their skills run free, and to have the courage to go.”
St Albans will take the same philosophy into the grand final against a Newtown & Chilwell side that has not lost a game since 2012.
“We have to, because Newtown haven’t lost,” she said.
“If you don’t take it to them and you don’t apply some pressure then you’re not going to win.
“We need to have the confidence in our own game to execute, and if we can do that we will give ourselves a chance.”
It was not the farewell South Barwon coach Adam Sloane he was hoping for after finishing as the Swans’ premier division coach.
The injury to Corrigan put South on its back foot.
“We had the team to go out there and win, and we played options that we thought were going to give us an advantage, but having Ainsley go down really threw a spanner in the works,” Sloane said.
“We needed to regroup as quick as we could.
“It’s about trying to keep the players’ heads calm and adjust.
“I think we had a lot of opportunities to do so, but we couldn’t capitalise.
“We couldn’t crack the five goals, we never got our rhythm to get the ball moving and get a lead.”