The 2017 Victorian Netball League Grand Finalists are confirmed, with the preliminary finals taking place on Saturday night at the SNHC.
The DC North East Blaze left it to the last minute to steal the lead in their match against the Geelong Cougars.
The Cougars led the match to three-quarter-time, but it would be the strong-finishing Blaze who claimed the victory, 42-39, to make their inaugural Championship Grand Final.
Cougars Goal Keeper, Brooke Allan, played a crucial role in the match, keeping prolific shooter Elizabeth Nicol to one of her lowest scores of the season, 32 goals.
The Cougars led by six goals at the first break, with the Blaze reducing the margin at half-time and three-quarter-time.
A strong defensive final quarter from the Blaze’s Micaela Wilson and Mary Livesey restricted the Cougar’s goals, giving the Blaze the lead with just minutes remaining on the clock.
Blaze Captain, Ella Bayliss, said the match was intense.
“The competition’s been really solid all year, particularly when we come up against Geelong,” said Bayliss.
“Turnovers don’t come easy so you’ve just got to really work for them and then when you’ve got the ball you’ve got to really take possession and keep control.”
It was belief in the team that saw the tides turn for the Blaze.
“To be honest I thought we were pretty gone [early in the match], but then we started to peg it back and stay even with them for the rest of the quarter,” said Bayliss.
“Kate [Upton] just asked us to believe and believe that we could do it, so we all went out there with the belief and we got there in the end.”
Division 1 saw another comeback victory for the Blaze, with their team coming from behind against the City West Falcons.
The Falcons led for the first half, before the Blaze took control to win by 10 goals, 60-50.
Goal Shooter Rebecca Colwell was instrumental in the victory, scoring 44 goals from 46 attempts, whilst defenders Kaitlyn Black and Georgia Bowkett impressed with the difficult job against the Falcons’ high-scoring attack line.
Blaze Captain Sam Coppinger said it was a team effort to get back into the match.
“We’re a really good team unit and we just spoke to each other and knew that we could do it,” Coppinger said.
“We just had the confidence to go out there and do it and it was a really good team effort.”
City West Falcons shooter Uneeq Palavi guided her team into the Grand Final with a fantastic 41 goal performance against the Melbourne University Lightning.
The Falcons were too strong for the Lightning, extending a two-goal half-time lead to a 14 goal victory, 53-39.
Palavi was unstoppable in the goals, whilst defenders Isabella Hines and Majar Betham-Hikuroa disrupted the Lightning’s attacking line, inflicting their first loss since Round 8.
Falcons’ Co-Captains Majar Hikuroa-Betham and Madelyn Gray said that it was a team effort to get them into the Grand Final.
“We had a bit of a rough start, but we came through in the end and the last half was really good, so I was proud of everyone,” said Gray.
“I think we just all got around each other and it was a great team effort by everyone,” added Hikuroa-Betham.
The Grand Final positions have now been confirmed, with the matches to take place this Saturday at the SNHC.