Gisborne stands in Sandhurst’s way of netting back-to-back A-grade flags

by Nathan Dole
GISBORNE stands in Sandhurst’s way of capturing back-to-back A-grade netball premierships in the Bendigo Bank Bendigo Football Netball League on Saturday.

The grand finalists have been the pacesetters all season and meet on the Queen Elizabeth Oval court for the third time.

Sandhurst won the round five clash with Gisborne on the QEO by 11 goals, while the red, white and blue scored a 50-47 victory in round 14 at Gardiner Reserve.

A 10-goal victory by Gisborne in the qualifying final was followed by a stunning 57-45 win in the second semi-final against Sandhurst.

The maroon and blue kept premiership hopes alive in a 51-39 victory against Kangaroo Flat in the preliminary final.

In her first year coaching at Gisborne, Kim Bailey said the team’s workrate, especially in the goaling area, played a big part in the second semi-final win.

“Claire Vearing and Ella Bertachinni were outstanding in that match,” Bailey said.

“Goaling accuracy was great, but was also the defensive pressure in the circle.

“Precise passing is a major strength of Sandhurst’s play,” Bailey said.

Gisborne’s line-up has also worked hard on different match scenarios at training all season.

“Sensing the moment in big games and knowing how to react to them is really important.”

Grand final week for Gisborne began with goal defence Maddy Stewart earning the Betty Thompson Medal as the league’s fairest and best player.

“Her tenacity at the ball and to win the contest is incredible,” said Bailey.

“Maddy’s development from a 17-year-old to now is amazing.

“Her ability to make a crucial intercept and leadership is inspirational.”

Another key player for Gisborne is Tarryn Rymer.

“The Rymer family has done so much for Gisborne Football Netball Club.

“Tarryn is so excited to be part of this team and is playing a key role at wing attack.”

In defence, Gisborne will look to Keara Fitzgerald to limit the influence that Bec Smith has on the contest.

Sandhurst coach Tamara Gilchrist said the team learnt a lot from the semi-final defeat.

“Gisborne made a much better start to that game than us.”

“Being able to capitalise on turnovers, winning the loose ball and conversion will be crucial,” she said of Sandhurst’s bid for another A-grade title.

In defence, Sandhurst has Carly Van Den Huevel who has starred at goalkeeper or goal defence all season.

“Imogen Sexton missed a lot of the first half of the season, but is in form at the right time,” Gilchrist said of the talented goal defence.”

Slick passing through all thirds of the court is a highlight of Sandhurst’s play.

“The ball movement to attack can put Gisborne under a lot of pressure.

“There is a lot of trust in each other on being able to make those quick passes.”

In the attacking circle, Sandhurst has Bec Smith and Kelsey Meade to lead the way.

A strength of the Sandhurst line-up was reflected in league voting in which 11 players earned votes in A-grade matches.

Seven clubs are represented in Saturday’s netball grand finals.

Sandhurst has three teams vying for premiership glory; Gisborne has two; Golden Square, Kangaroo Flat, Kyneton, South Bendigo and Strathfieldsaye all have one team to play.

Schedule for the Bendigo FNL netball grand finals on Saturday at Queen Elizabeth Oval, View Street:

17-and-under at 9am: Sandhurst v Gisborne.

B-reserve at 10.30am: South Bendigo v Strathfieldsaye.

B-grade at 12pm: Sandhurst v Golden Square.

A-reserve at 1.30pm: Kangaroo Flat v Kyneton.

A-grade at 3pm: Gisborne v Sandhurst.

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