Benalla Netball Association and Murray Netball League shared the spoils of the Goulburn North East Regional State League grand finals on Tuesday night.
The MNL’s 17 and under side downed its Benalla NA counterpart in the opening game for the night, 56-22, but Benalla NA was too strong for Ovens and Murray league outfit Wangaratta Magpies in the open division, scoring a 40-23 win.
MNL took a five-goal lead into quarter time at Mercy Centennial Stadium, but blitzed Benalla in the second term, scoring 10 consecutive goals at one stage to be ahead 34-12 at the main break.
Benalla seemed to lift towards the end of the third quarter and the margin was 23 goals at three quarter time, but Murray stormed to the finish line with a 16-goals-to five last term.
Caddison Mulholland, who played centre for three quarters and swapped to wing attack for the third term, was outstanding and earned the praise of coach Dylan Nexhip.
‘‘She took plenty of intercepts and to be able to attack and defend as well as she does consistently for four quarters was really good to see,’’ Nexhip said.
Chelsea McDonald, Laura Miles and Abbey Nexhip also formed imposing goals combinations, while Benalla coach Robyn Smith managed to put 12 players on the court throughout the game.
Nexhip said it was a patchy performance from the team at times, but other parts were excellent.
‘‘It was a bit disappointing they couldn’t do it consistently over four quarters, but for 85, 80 per cent of the game they played really well and jelled together as a team,’’ he said.
‘‘It was really positive to see and they all worked together.
‘‘The second quarter was really good and they got 23 goals in the second quarter, but to get 23 goals in a quarter like that was really good.’’
Nexhip said one player remained from the team that played in the RSL last year and there was also a couple of bottom-aged players in the side, which was a positive sign.
He hoped to improve some court structure elements and cut down the number of turnovers the team produced as the team played and trained together more.
MNL will play in several tournaments in the lead up to the North East zone’s qualifying tournament for the Association Champion- ships, which will be in Shepparton on June 15.
‘‘They had a really good comp and to be able to see the progression through the comp I think is probably the most positive sign, so that was really good to see,’’ Nexhip said.
Benalla NA’s open side included an imposing mix of talent, including Saints stalwart Kellie Keen, goaler Martine Rodger, Mansfield club best-and-fairest runner- up Meaghan Tanner, new Benalla coach Kate Symes and last year’s North East Zone Academy member Emily Martyn.
The team’s vice- captain and Benalla All Blacks coach Jo Toms played an outstanding game in goal defence and was named player of the grand final and was also MVP for the season.
The side benefited hugely from a 7-0 start and led 12-4 at the first change, and a late goal in the second term meant it took a 21-9 lead into half-time.
The Magpies brought the gap down to seven midway through the third quarter, but it was back to 10 at three- quarter time, and the return of the Rodger-Keen goaling combination for the final term helped secure the 17-goal win.
Smith, who also coached the open side, said the lack of support from other clubs and associations for RSL this season was disappointing, but Benalla was proud to offer the pathway and opportunity to players.
‘‘The standard was good and I thought it was a very good spectacle and run professionally and it’s great for the region to be able to get that level of netball done for the local girls,’’ she said of Tuesday night’s finals.
2014 Goulburn/North East Regional State League Results
Grand Final Results
Benalla Na (40) def Wangaratta Magpies (23)
Player of the Grand Final: Jo Toms (Benalla)
Murray NL (56) def Benalla Na (22)
Player of the Grand Final: Caddison Mulholland (Murray NL)
Most Valuable Player
Voted 3, 2, 1 by the umpires
Jo Toms (Benalla NA)
Chelsea McDonald (Murray NL)
Awarded to the most accurate goaler throughout the season
Sarah Hooper (Wangaratta Magpies)
Chelsea McDonald (Murray NL)
Coaches Most Wanted
Coaches vote each week for their most wanted player from the opposition team.
Sophie Hanrahan (Corowa & District White)
Olivia Slattery (Echuca Bombers)