Magpies stun the invincibles
Wangaratta one win away from maiden premiership after upsetting Panthers
WANGARATTA Magpies are the first team to qualify for the 2018 A grade grand final.
In a fortnight’s time the Magpies will contest their first Ovens and Murray A grand final since 1996.
The time the whistle sounded brought the entire playing group to tears, spectators too, as the Magpies defeated Lavington by three goals.
It was the Panthers’ first loss all season on the back of a week off gifted to them via the minor premiership.
The Magpies’ start again was the deciding factor.
Wangaratta leapt out to an 8-0 lead through the first 10 minutes of the opening term to put the Panthers on the back foot and were in full control 11-6 at quarter time.
Lavington gained a goal on the Magpies’ lead with a 10-9 second term and after a half time adjustment were able to get the lead to just two goals at three quarter time.
One last effort was needed and Wangaratta delivered.
The Magpies’ were not to be denied, however, and held on to the win with a 9-8 final term.
The ball was down at the Magpies’ end when the team saw the timekeeper leave her seat, signalling 30 seconds to go, and when the whistle sounded to end the game and then pandemonium set in.
“We had the ball down our end and we were totally focused on scoring every time we had the ball,” Goal defence and four-time best and fairest winner Hannah Grady said.
“But when we saw the timekeeper get up and follow the umpire we didn’t know what to do.
“It was shock followed by excitement; everyone was in tears.”
Keeping it together after a great start was nod to the hard work and development that the Magpies have put forward in the last five seasons that the core group has played together.
“We wanted to come out firing, like we did last week against Yarra and put Lavington under pressure,” Grady said.
“We all know that two turnovers in a row can change a game, so we were worked the ball fast but cleanly to hold the lead. “We really wanted to keep that lead.” Issy Byrne was named best on court, while Grady and captain Katie Dean locked the defensive third down. “Issy played really well,” Grady said. “She contested everything and on both attacking and defending she was awesome.”
Grady said the Magpies have known for a while that their best netball is enough to challenge and defeat the best sides in the competition.
“We have always had that confidence to beat those teams,” Grady said.
“We have worked a lot on keeping it positive, and pushing together as a team.”
Fittingly, two players (Hannah Grady and Chaye Crimmins) born in 1996, while Issy Byrne was born the year after with goal shooter Amanda Umanski (1998) and wing defence Mikaela Trethowan (2000) were also not alive the last time the Magpies contested the premiership.
Coach Kellie Keen, Katie Dean and Leah Jenvey were the only other players alive at that time.
Wangaratta Magpies have never won an A grade premiership in the Ovens and Murray competition.
The Magpies will contest the grand final on its home court on September 23.
IN CLOSE: Wangaratta’s Leah Jenvey battles with two Lavington players for the ball on Saturday while below Katie Dean and coach Kellie Keen were fantastic at opposing ends of the court.