Hawks on a high af­ter win

The Cobram Courier - - SPORT - By Pa­trick Tansey

It might have taken nearly 20 years but it was worth the wait for the Ba­rooga faith­ful.

For the first time in nearly two decades, Ba­rooga’s A-grade was fi­nally back play­ing fi­nals net­ball and there was no bet­ter way to an­nounce its re­turn than by send­ing its great­est ri­val, Co­bram, pack­ing.

Ba­rooga co-coach Tay­lah Hazel­man was un­der­stand­ably ec­static with the re­sult.

‘‘It’s been about 20 years since Ba­rooga A-grade played a fi­nal so that was our goal at the be­gin­ning of the year,’’ Hazel­man said.

‘‘To be go­ing into the sec­ond week is awe­some. We were happy just to get to the first fi­nal but now to be go­ing to week two and to be play­ing the net­ball we are is very ex­cit­ing,’’ she said.

The Hawks’ 54-41 vic­tory over their old foe was the stuff of dreams.

Be­gin­ning the sea­son at 0-5, it seemed highly im­prob­a­ble Ba­rooga would get near its in­tended goal for the sea­son, let alone be march­ing into the sec­ond week high on con­fi­dence af­ter a tremen­dous back half of the year.

The fact it was with­out star goal shooter Hazel­man, who is side­lined with a se­ri­ous knee in­jury, only added fur­ther gloss to a spe­cial win that will go down in Ba­rooga folk­lore.

‘‘We’ve been a bit un­set­tled in the last few weeks but to come out in a fi­nal and for ev­ery­one on the court to step up and play their role for the team and pro­duce that kind of net­ball was awe­some, I’m re­ally proud of them,’’ the in­jured co-coach said.

With only one win sep­a­rat­ing both teams at the con­clu­sion of the home and away sea­son, the match against the Tigers was al­ways go­ing to be rel­a­tively close, but one par­tic­u­lar player ul­ti­mately proved the big­gest dif­fer­ence be­tween the two teams.

Big-name re­cruit Abbey Jones, who crossed over from Yar­ra­wonga this sea­son, lit up the court in Ton­gala, shoot­ing an in­cred­i­ble 47 of the Hawks’ 54 goals.

‘‘She was out­stand­ing, by far best on the court. To pro­duce her best game of net­ball for the sea­son in a fi­nal is a real credit to her,’’ Hazel­man said.

‘‘It showed her ex­pe­ri­ence as well, she’s only 20 but has played in many grand fi­nals for Yar­ra­wonga‘.‘In say­ing that, ev­ery­one played well but for her to step up and fin­ish off ev­ery­one’s good work was pretty awe­some to watch,’’ she said.

Iron­i­cally, Jones’ star show­ing would never have hap­pened if not for her coach’s un­timely in­jury.

With goal shooter Hazel­man ruled out of the fi­nals se­ries, usual goal at­tack Jones was thrown into shooter and the move proved to be an ut­ter mas­ter­stroke from the Hazel­man sis­ters Tay­lah and Sharni.

‘‘We’ve had to shift po­si­tions around in the last cou­ple of weeks which meant Abbey went deep and Car­men Shannon who has played de­fence all year went into goal at­tack.

‘‘It wasn’t ideal — we had to make those changes when we’ve been re­ally set­tled in our po­si­tions all year, but it worked well on the day.’’

The chal­lenges don’t get any eas­ier this week for the Hawks, who come up against a Rum­balara out­fit that will be hun­gry to play well af­ter a three-goal loss to De­niliquin in its qual­i­fy­ing fi­nal.

‘‘It will be tough, they’ve been the only team to knock off Moama this year so that shows the level they can play to, and we haven’t played them since round two or three so we can’t re­ally base any­thing off that game.’’

Hazel­man said it was ob­vi­ous where Rumba’s strengths were, but she knew stop­ping it was eas­ier said than done.

“They’re a phys­i­cal team, they’re tall at both ends and ev­ery­one knows that their big­gest strength is def­i­nitely their speed so if we can shut down their mid court and take that away from them we will be in the game with a chance.’’

Mine: Co­bram’s Tessa Bruni and Ba­rooga co-coach Sharni Hazel­man jos­tle for the net­ball in the air. Pic­tures: Jackie Vo­gel

Got it: Hawk Sarah Bruce gets a timely hand in to pre­vent Tiger Keely Bond from grab­bing the net­ball.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.