By Matt Fotia
Some people say attack is the best form of defence. But for the Mount Evelyn A Grade Netball side that couldn’t be further from the truth, as the number one defensive outfit in competition took out the Division One A Grade Premiership on Sunday, winning 32-29 over Monbulk in front of a vocal crowd at Woori Yallock.
The Rovers, who won just six games in 2018, have been consistent all season, losing just three games for the entire year to finish the home and away fixtures in second place. They defeated the Hawks in the Qualifying Final three weeks earlier, before defeating minor premier ROC to gain direct passage to Sunday’s decider.
The fiery clash was end to end in the opening stages, with the big match ups at either end of the court. Best and Fairest winner Kaitlyn Black predictably went to the competitions leading goal shooter in Steph Puopolo, a match up that promised to enthral as two of the league’s best went head to head.
Elsewhere, Nicole Macdowell remained in the goal circle supporting Puopolo, a role she’s made her own in the latter stages of the year, whilst Paige Whitworth took on Georgia Marsh and Katrina Wragg went to Ellie Karalua.
Locked at eight goal apiece after the first quarter, the Rovers gained the slightest of ascendancies in the second quarter as the two goal shooters began to assert their dominance of the game.
Karalua, who promises to have built an impressive netball resume in years to come, had 13 goals to half time, whilst Puopolo had managed 14, despite some very physical defending from Black.
Both Goal Defences, Jacqui Black and Whitworth were on top of their respective opponents, who had managed just six (Georgia Marsh) and four goals (MacDowell) to the main break.
Gabby Bingley was substituted on for Cassidy Quilty into the Wing Defence role for Mount Evelyn after the break as the Rovers defence completely took over the game, working beautifully as a united front. The Black sisters transformed from defenders into brick walls, as the Hawks managed just four goals for the entire quarter.
Kaitlyn Black, who has shot 91 goals of her own in 2019, kept Puopolo to just one goal for the entire third term, as the Rovers shot out to a game high four goal lead at three quarter time. At the other end Karalua managed five for the term, with Marsh still being well held by Whitworth, who was also providing drive for the Hawks.
Monbulk were able to take the plaudits in the final quarter, but such is the will of the Rovers, their attempts to overturn the four goal margin were in vain. Scoring five or six goals a quarter against Mount Evelyn is tough enough, getting into double figures is nigh on impossible and doing it with the Black’s in form is as hard as is it gets.
Paige Whitworth was awarded the medal for Best on Court in a losing side, for her effort on Georgia Marsh, whilst Mount Evelyn’s Kaitlyn Black completed the impressive triple of Premiership coach, player and Best and Fairest.
MOUNT EVELYN 8,19,26,32 (Karalua 23, Marsh 9)
MONBULK 8,18,22,29 (Puopolo 20, MacDowell 9)
Best On Court – Paige Whitworth