Marathon grand fi­nale

Shepparton News - - SPORT - By Lau­ren Bordin

When peo­ple re­call ex­tra-time thrillers, Luke Shuey’s goal af­ter the siren on Satur­day which sent West Coast into tonight’s semi­fi­nal might come to mind.

But at Shep­par­ton Net­ball As­so­ci­a­tion’s courts ear­lier in the day a clas­sic was un­fold­ing in the 15-and-un­der sec­tion 3 grand fi­nal.

Tatura took on Goul­burn Val­ley Gram­mar School in a match which went into an un­prece­dented level of time on.

With scores close through­out the en­tire game, the match was drawn at 28-all at the end of reg­u­lar time.

Sent into a block of 14 min­utes of ex­tra time with a brief break in the mid­dle, again the teams could not be split.

While play­ers were ex­hausted at that point, the marathon ef­fort was only just start­ing.

To de­cide the match, ei­ther team would have to pull ahead by two goals dur­ing an in­def­i­nite time pe­riod.

For the two sides, it would be 32 min­utes un­til that feat was reached, with the play flow­ing con­tin­u­ously and no time al­lowed for a breather or a drinks break.

To end the or­deal, Tatura’s Chloe Wereszczuk sunk her side’s 41st goal of the day but play­ers needed a few sec­onds to re­alise the match was fin­ished.

Bull­dogs coach Sandy Witham said both sides did ex­cep­tion­ally well to play 106 min­utes of net­ball.

‘‘It was just pan­de­mo­nium af­ter we’d won, but due re­spect to all the girls, they played their heart out and ev­ery­one was fa­tigued but it was just an epic at­mos­phere,’’ she said.

‘‘The girls were fa­tigued, af­fect­ing their con­cen­tra­tion on the day and they did good to all play like they did af­ter al­ready play­ing 74 min­utes of net­ball and then go for another 32.

‘‘Any­body could have won and we wouldn’t have been dis­ap­pointed if we’d lost af­ter an ef­fort like that.’’

With pre­sen­ta­tions for the other grand finals in the same time slot on hold un­til the match ended, play­ers milled around the court to watch the in­cred­i­ble match un­fold.

‘‘There were two other Tat teams play­ing and they were quite ex­cited be­cause they were watch­ing and other peo­ple were com­ing across so the at­mos­phere for those girls at that level was un­be­liev­able . . . there was a fair amount of cheer­ing and yelling,’’ Witham said.

In the midst of the cel­e­bra­tions, Ashi­iah Roger­son in­jured her knee, re­sult­ing in her sit­ting in the wheel­chair for the team photo.

Wereszczuk, 14, was cap­tain for the side on the day and said on court it did not feel like more than half an hour of con­sis­tent pay­ing.

‘‘As you were go­ing it didn’t seem that long . . . I think it was be­cause of the de­ter­mi­na­tion and how much we wanted it that pushed us through in the end,’’ she said.

When the fi­nal goal sailed through the net, Wereszczuk needed con­fir­ma­tion it was the sealer.

‘‘When I shot it I thought we’d won, but I wasn’t re­ally sure, so when the um­pire put up their hand (to sig­nal) that it was the end of the game it was a mas­sive re­lief,’’ she said.

‘‘We were ab­so­lutely bug­gered, we’d been work­ing a lot on fit­ness through­out the year so it re­ally helped out in the end.’’

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