Amazing grace steals the game

May 16, 2017

WIMMERA’S open netball side stole the win from Murray in a thrilling time-on period in the interleague clash at Moama Recreation Reserve on Saturday.

Murray went down 53-55 on a two-goal grace rule after scores were level at the end of regulation time and still tied at the end of extra time.

Wimmera got an early break in the first quarter to lead 4-1 and brought plenty of full-court pressure to the game with hands over every ball on court.

They found composure from the first whistle and looked like they had been playing together for years, but it was a much different story for the Murray side.

Strong defensive rebounds from Elle Florance and Emilly Atkinson provided plenty of opportunities for Murray to keep the scorers busy but too many poor passes, compounded by miscommunication, hurt the team early as they struggled to settle into unfamiliar combinations.

Emily Taverna struggled to get out on the centre passes in WA and took a while to work out the systems of the attacking end.

They tried to force the ball on several occasions, which caused a lot of turnovers, but the team clawed its way back to level the scores 9-9 at quarter-time thanks to the steadiness of its defensive end.

Five of the starting seven were girls from local sides — with Tongala’s Caddison Mulholland (centre) and Amy Hammond (WD), Moama’s Emily Taverna (WA) and Emilly Atkinson (GD) and Echuca United’s Elle Florance (GK) all taking the court in the first quarter.

Echuca United’s Amy Gledhill came on to WD at quarter-time and shut down Wimmera’s WA with Hammond moving into centre to create a strong drive through the middle of the court.

‘‘We started to get the hang of how everyone played towards the end,’’ Gledhill said.

‘‘I didn’t think I would be playing in wing defence, but it was good to be able to put some pressure on outside the ring.’’

But despite that pressure the host-side squandered a five-goal lead at half-time after finding some form late in the second quarter.

Lack of consistency from goalers Bec White (Deniliquin) and Chelsea McDonald (Finley) resulted in easy rebounds for Wimmera’s tall defenders.

Kirby Knights used strong holds under the ring and goaled accurately for Wimmera to level the scores again at three-quarter-time, 33-33.

Atkinson moved into goal shooter in the fourth quarter and created strong holds for mid-courters Mulholland and Taverna to easily pass to, but she couldn’t capitalise on her shots at goal and missed some crucial scoring opportunities.

Under 17 player Emma Buwalda came on as GA in the third quarter and dominated the game.

Gledhill kept her partly quiet after moving into GD in the fourth quarter with Florance in GK and both worked to intercept the ball without reward from the attacking end.

Knights goaled off an offensive rebound in the dying seconds of the quarter to tie the game at 42-all and send it into extra time.

Hammond played the entire game, as did Florance, and was awarded best on for her consistency in the mid-court.

Florance said it was a hard fought, physical game from both sides.

‘‘Amy (Hammond) definitely deserved best on for our side,’’ she said.

‘‘There’s still plenty of room to improve and gel as a team before we head down to Melbourne for the state championships in June.

‘‘We had our opportunities in the final quarter and lost it for ourselves in the end, but it was great having Alicia White (coach) there as a positive influence all game.’’

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