Mag­pies stun the in­vin­ci­bles

Wan­garatta one win away from maiden premier­ship af­ter up­set­ting Pan­thers

Wangaratta Chronicle - - Front Page - BY CAM POT­TER cpot­ter@ne­me­

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.

PHO­TOS: Melissa Beat­tie

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.

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