Yea have won the AFL Yarra Ranges Community Bank Football Netball Division Two Coldstream Cider A Grade Netball premiership, outlasting Kinglake in one of the most see-sawing and pulsating A Grade finals in recent history.
The Tigers victory was at no point safe as the game saw countless lead changes and some inspirational defensive and offensive performances, lighting up the Healesville Sports Complex on Sunday, but the Tigers were the fortunate team in front at the final whistle overcoming Kinglake off to win 45-44.
The Tigers jumped out of the blocks early, scoring 15 goals to 11 in a high scoring opening quarter. Melissa Martinov, starting in Goal Attack, was the key attacking outlet for Yea finishing the first term with 11 goals, feeding off the delivery of Gabby Duncan and co. It would be the beginning of a great duel between Martinov and the Kinglake defenders Caitlyn Ryan (Goal Defence) and Alice Waack (Goal Keeper) which would last the entire game, as the attacker swapped between Goal Attack and Goal Shooter.
That defensive partnership was able to get on top in the second stanza as Kinglake were able to complete an eight goal swing, piling on 15 goals to just seven in the second quarter. Fiona Olarenshaw netted 10 of her own as she did battle with Yea’s athletic Rachel Hickey. Alice Waack was spectacular in the second term, keeping the red hot Martinov to just three goals, helping Kinglake head into half time leading 26 to 22.
The second quarter slump saw Yea switch their goalers around at the half time break in an attempt to get back on top in their battle with Waack and Ryan.
The Tigers once again gained the ascendancy netting 13 goals in a rampant third quarter performance, whilst a strong mid court effort from Duncan, Sam Coppinger and Chelsea Spangolo, who came off the bench at half time, ensured that Kinglake could only net seven goals of their own. In particular Kinglake skipper Monique Nagel was quiet in the third quarter kept to just two goals by the ultra-impressive Megan Leathem.
Trailing 35-33 at the final change the pressure was on Kinglake coach Latoya Wards to make a big decision. Should she stick with her misfiring skipper Nagel, who only had 12 goals in the first three quarters and was struggling with the pressure of Leathem, or does she swing the changes and try something different to overturn the two goal deficit.
Wards made the tough decision of removing her skipper, swinging Wing Attack Abbie Barns into Goal Attack, the high scoring Olarenshaw into Goal Shooter and bringing Nakita Lastrina off the bench into the empty Wing Attack position.
Barns finished the quarter with six goals to her name and Olarenshaw managed to net an extra five to bring her game tally to 26, but alas it wasn’t enough for Kinglake, who despite leading late in the fourth term, were unable to kept Yea quiet enough to claim the victory. The combination of Watts (20 for the game) and Martinov (26) managed to score 10 for the quarter, ensuring this titanic struggle would see Yea as the victors despite countless nervous moments.
Whilst history is often kinder to goal scorers than those who attempt to halt them, it must be noted the impressive efforts of both sides defenders, who all found their way into their sides best players, whilst none of the goal scorers were named.
Yea’s enigmatic centre Gabby Duncan was awarded Best on Court after her performance which saw her take the mid court honours from Wards and Bridget Waack in the centre circle.
AFL YARRA RANGES FOOTBALL NETBALL LEAGUE COLDSTREAM CIDER DIVISION TWO A GRADE NETBALL GRAND FINAL:
YEA 15. 22. 35. (45) def KINGLAKE 11. 26. 33. (44)
YEA: Melissa Martinov 25, Nikki Watts 20
KINGLAKE: Fiona Olarenshaw 26, Monique Nagel 12, Abbie Barns 6
YEA: Gabby Duncan*, Rachel Hickey, Megan Leatham
KINGLAKE: Alice Waack, Caitlyn Ryan, Abbie Barns
*Denotes Best on Court Medal Winner.
By: Matt Fotia