Burras and De­mons in de­cider

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Sport - BY COLIN MACGILLIVR­AY

Hor­sham and Minyip-mur­toa will vie to re­place Hor­sham Saints on Wim­mera Net­ball As­so­ci­a­tion’s A Grade throne af­ter the two-time reign­ing pre­miers were elim­i­nated in Sun­day’s pre­lim­i­nary fi­nal.

The Saints have pro­duced gi­ant-killing runs in each of their past two sea­sons, com­ing from fifth place to storm to pre­mier­ships.

But an at­tempted premier­ship three­p­eat from fourth place in 2019 proved one bridge too far, with the Saints fall­ing 60-47 to a fired-up Minyip-mur­toa.

The Burras topped the lad­der for most of the sea­son but have been up and down in re­cent weeks.

They looked to be on their knees af­ter a hefty 30-goal loss to Hor­sham in a sec­ond semi-fi­nal but re­sponded mag­nif­i­cently on Sun­day at Dim­boola.

Minyip-mur­toa, play­ing through Georgia Mclen­nan at goal at­tack, opened up a three-goal ad­van­tage by the end of the first quar­ter but truly got on top in the sec­ond with 16 goals to 10.

The nine-goal gap was one the Saints was never able to peg back de­spite the per­sis­tent ef­forts of goal at­tack Lavinia Fox and mid­courters Abby Hal­lam and Ash­lee Grace.

Mclen­nan was ar­guably best acourt, but the Burras got con­tri­bu­tions from each of their play­ers, in­clud­ing their bench.

Tay­lor Men­tha’s ef­forts on tow­er­ing Saints goalie Mag­gie Caris were also note­wor­thy, as Caris was kept to just 19 goals – eas­ily her low­est to­tal of the sea­son.

Coach Bil­lie Bibby said her play­ers had been gal­vanised by the loss to Hor­sham and came out with a point to prove in the pre­lim­i­nary fi­nal.

“Grand fi­nals don’t come easy, and we can’t take them for granted,” she said.

“I think los­ing to Hor­sham made us more de­ter­mined to make sure we didn’t go out that way. We want to go out with a win.”

Bibby said the Burras’ Jekyll and Hyde per­for­mances in the fi­nals were mys­ti­fy­ing, but she backed her team to per­form at its best on grand fi­nal day.

“There’s noth­ing I can re­ally put my finger on as to why we’ve been up and down,” she said.

“If I knew that, it wouldn’t have been hap­pen­ing.

“We learned the hard way what hap­pens when Hor­sham gets a jump on us, so that’s what we’ll be fo­cus­ing on.

“We’ve got a very ver­sa­tile team and a lot of the girls can play any­where, so we’ll be look­ing to use all nine in the grand fi­nal.”

Saints coach Shan­non Cross paid credit to the Burras and said they could win a premier­ship if they du­pli­cated their per­for­mance in the grand fi­nal.

“I be­lieve our play­ers gave their all and played re­ally well, it’s just that Minyip-mur­toa played bet­ter,” she said.

“Go­ing for a three-peat was al­ways go­ing to be a dif­fi­cult task, and we just fell one game short of an­other grand fi­nal.”

The De­mons are well rested af­ter play­ing only once dur­ing the fi­nals se­ries and are cel­e­brat­ing goal de­fence Georgia His­cock’s win in Mon­day night’s Hatcher Medal count.

His­cock and Faith Mcken­zie will at­tempt to match up on the red-hot McLen­nan and Kirby Knight re­spec­tively.

The Burras could throw dif­fer­ent com­bi­na­tions into their mid­court, with Hay­ley Camp­bell, Ash Knight and Sheri­dan Pe­ter­ing able to play dif­fer­ent po­si­tions against Hor­sham’s Paige Lloyd, Liv Jones and Tamika Men­tha.

In the de­fen­sive goal ring, Burra Tay­lor Men­tha will try to repli­cate her stel­lar per­for­mance against Hor­sham sharp­shooter Emma Buwalda, while Alex Lang is likely to take Ge­orgie Car­berry.

De­mons co-coach Amanda Wor­thy said her side would be pre­pared for a much-im­proved Minyip-mur­toa in the grand fi­nal.

“Two weeks ago the game cer­tainly didn’t go the way we an­tic­i­pated – we ex­pected it to be re­ally tight – and go­ing into Satur­day we’re ex­pect­ing a tight game again,” she said.

“I be­lieve we’re quite evenly matched teams for height and speed across the court.

“It will prob­a­bly come down to who set­tles quick­est on the day and han­dles the pres­sure of the game, the umpires and the whole at­mos­phere.”

Minyip-mur­toa’s Hay­ley Camp­bell

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