Echuca's B grade netball side has claimed the 2013 Goulburn Valley Netball League grand final, defeating Shepparton United.By Luke McManus
Echuca’s B grade netballers are the new queens of the court after claiming the Goulburn Valley Netball Association premiership yesterday.
The Murray Bombers, bearing the underdog tag, pulled out all the stops against an undefeated Shepparton United, trumping the minor premiers 38-30 on a perfect sunny afternoon at Shepparton’s Deakin Reserve.
It was the first time Echuca, or any team, has beaten Shepparton United in season 2013.
The win could not have come at a better time for coach Gina Pearson and her charges.
‘‘Upsets happen every day in sport,’’ Pearson said, learning those words of wisdom from her husband in the build-up to the all-important clash.
‘‘Our losses against the Dees haven’t been by huge margins. I believed throughout the entire season they weren’t a better team than us.
‘‘We led from the front which put enormous pressure on the Demons and I think they didnt know how to react.
‘‘I am so proud of the girls, they’ve just worked so hard, not just today, but all season and it’s their win to enjoy now.’’
Echuca’s ever-humble captain Ebony Butler was named best-on-court for her stellar performance in centre.
Butler was relentless all match, having two opponents as company, while providing the Murray Bombers with plenty of drive and run.
It was Butler’s defensive mindset which Pearson highlighted as one of the many reasons behind Echuca’s dominance.
‘‘Ebony was terrific,’’ she said.
‘‘She just works so hard and never stops running.
‘‘She’s a defensive centre. The majority of her work is done in the back-half which gives our defenders a hand and creates turnovers.
‘‘She absolutely deserved it but we had winners in every single position today and there were probably three or four who could have won it.’’
Echuca’s defensive game plan worked to its advantage, as Butler, wing attack Shantelle Worsnop and wing defence Jane Emonson started winning the mid-court battles.
Turnovers were forced and the composure shown by Echuca allowed the ball to be moved with precision when the right chance presented itself.
Goal defence Maree Gray and goal keeper Tamara Nicholls stood firm and ‘starved’ the usually potent Shepparton United goalers of chances.
Demon Emma Gunn managed just 13 goals for the match including only one conversion during a fiercely contested second quarter.
Echuca’s half-time lead of five goals was quickly out to 10 by the final change after a brilliant quarter by goal attack Bree Gilmour.
Gilmour shot incredibly well, long-range or up close it did not faze the youngster, continuing her form into the final term as well.
Gilmour netted 24 goals for the match, 16 in the second half, while the experienced hand of Sherri Barden (14 goals) was excellent support in and around the goal circle.
The Echuca coach praised her goal attack’s poise.
‘‘Bree is the type of shooter who can pop them in from anywhere,’’ Pearson said.
‘‘She converted a few amazing shots which just killed United’s defenders.
‘‘It really had an influence on their confidence and made things difficult for them.’’
Pearson’s only personnel change came at three-quarter time when Emonson, who carried a shoulder injury into the match, swapped with Kristen Orr.
Orr proved her value at wing defence, intercepting the ball on three telling occasions during the quarter.
Left on the bench was Leah Smith and young gun Ella Scales.
Despite missing out on game time, Pearson highlighted the importance of their contribution throughout the season and their encouragement on game day.
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