The Grand Final rematch between Nagambie and Tallygaroopna lived up to its expectation with the Lakers clinching a three-goal victory in front of a home crowd.
Down by four at half-time, the Lakers switched a few magnets around at the main break to keep the Redlegs on their toes.
A barnstorming third quarter won by Nagambie 11-7 got the home side back on level terms before the Lakers shot another 11 goals in the final term to seal the deal.
This marked a significant victory for the Lakers against a major contender in the Kyabram District Netball League, given they have lost premiership players Katie Sullivan and Rachael Mundy for the season, and were without Vikki Bester, who was a late out due to work commitments.
Lakers playing coach Abby Misiti said she was rapt with the way the team able to adapt despite missing key personnel and find a way to win.
‘‘We were expecting a pretty tough contest and it was close all game, so I couldn’t have been happier with the girls,’’ she said.
‘‘We just chatted before the game about being competitive ... and seeing where we’re at. I’m sure there were a few nerves from everyone when they raised the flag for the start of game, being round one. But we were really versatile on Saturday — I was able to make lots of changes and I think we got a really good look at their squad as well.’’
‘‘I really think our changes helped us on Saturday — Sharni Lloyd started in defence before coming back to her usual spot at goal attack, which freed me up to go into the mid-court. It’s crucial to be able to change up the squad and throw something at the opposition. I also thought Sarah O’Sullivan was fantastic ... her worth ethic through the midcourt and vision into the circle was really great.’’
Another key to victory, Misiti said, was having the depth and new talent in the squad to cover the likes of Sullivan, Mundy and Bester.
‘‘Vikki Bester provides a lot of height in defence, so we were a little nervous about losing her but the girls covered up in her absence,’’ she said.
‘‘We had Bree D’Andrea who came up from the B-grade game for a half and was excellent, so it’s nice to know we’ve got that depth to draw on.
‘‘Alicia White was also fantastic — she played halfback and goalkeeper and then the second half out on the court at goal defence ... already you can see she’s going to have great leadership on the court and even in the break she had some really valuable coaching tips and things to offer us. So I couldn’t be happier having her at the club and I’m excited about what the team can produce.’’
And what is more exciting about the result, Misiti said, is that there is still plenty of room for improvement for the Lakers side.
‘‘Having some new girls at the club we probably need to work on some of our structures and set plays — there were a few things that didn’t come off,’’ she said.
‘‘Also there’s always room to build on our fitness.’’
The B-grade side lost to Tallygaroopna 23 to 37; C-grade lost 35-41; 17-and-under lost 24-26; 15-and-under won 25-17.
Nagambie has an away game against Undera this weekend.