Tongala A grade netball side lost Saturday's Murray Netball League grand final by one goal, going down to Mulwala.By Luke McManus
Tongala fell one-goal short of a fairytale Murray Netball League A grade premiership, overrun by a determined Mulwala in the dying minutes of Saturday’s grand final.
Led by a 10-goal performance from goalers Eliza-Janes Strawhorn and Stephanie Beams in the final term, the Lions lifted their intensity and pegged back Tongala’s three-quarter-time lead to steal a 37-36 victory.
The Blues were besieged by a possessed Lions outfit, desperate to turn the tables on their heartbreaking grand final loss 12 months ago.
‘‘We’re shattered,’’ Tongala coach Dylan Nexhip said post-match. ‘‘It’s gut-wrenching because it was our game to win.’’
Following an arm-wrestle in the opening term, Tongala gained the upper-hand in the second as Tracey Hughes and Abbey Pettifer shot truly, to give their side a handy four-goal buffer at half-time.
The Blues had the match in their control, with centre Kaitlyn Souter and wing attack Caddi Mulholland getting the better of their immediate Lions opponents Emma Cooper and Cara Wood.
Around the goal ring, both were prolific and provided plenty of support for Hughes and Pettifer.
Mulwala made up ground in the third quarter, but still trailed 30-27 going into the final break.
With Cooper rested and Mulwala coach Casey Hudgson returned to wing attack, the Lions upped the ante in the final quarter and gained the ascendancy in key match-ups over the court.
‘‘Mulwala definitely picked it up in the last, you could tell they didn’t want to lose two years in a row,’’ Nexhip said.
‘‘They lifted their hunger and intensity and we just couldn’t capitalise on our opportunities as much as they did.’’
Costly turnovers in Tongala’s forward half placed considerable pressure on the Blues’ defensive contingency of wing defence Paige Wade, goal defence Alicia White and goal keeper Moana Waasdorp.
As a result, Mulwala hit the lead for the first time in more than 30 minutes of play.
At the opposite end, Pettifer was restricted to just one goal for the term after her rhythm was hampered by the close — sometimes rough — attention from opponent Kate Lynch.
With only minutes left on the clock, an injury time-out was called when Pettifer landed heavily on her left knee after tripping over leading back towards goal during a Blues breakaway.
‘‘Abbey was up against it today, getting kneed in the legs and tripping over,’’ Nexhip said.
‘‘She fought strongly under the circumstances.’’
When play resumed, Tongala hit back to level the scores at 36-all, before a costly turnover at the edge of Tongala’s goal ring resulted in the rebounded ball finding its way to Beams, who converted.
The final whistle sounding before the possibility of a Tongala reply and Mulwala won its second premiership in three years.
Artist Nici Cumpston will hold a free Artist Talk at Shepparton Art Museum tonight, speaking about her body of work based around the Shepparton region.
It’s been a long journey for Tim Roadley but his dream of creating a multi-sport endurance event on the Murray River is now going to be a reality.
It was a big day for Jye McNeil on Sunday, not only celebrating his 19th birthday, but riding a double at the Tatura and Shepparton Racing Club’s meeting, including the big one, the Vraca and Varapodio Italian Plate (1600 m), on the Gerald Egan-trained Jetconi.
Echuca Football Club has signed Joel Magnabosco and Kane Morris for next season.
On Friday Rochester’s St Joseph’s Primary School opened a time capsule which was buried in the 1980s.
Waste collection in Campaspe Shire will change for two weeks during the festive season.
Valley Park Farms' egg production facility is expected to increase production and staff after a $100 000 Victorian Government grant.
Murchison’s Jane Spencer’s first exhibition It Just Dawned On Me will be on show in Shepparton in the first half of next year.
Lisa Milligan has started a new dog grooming business in Heathcote to help fund her Wild ABout Wildlife centre in Kilmore.
Police allege a man attempted to rob a Cobram supermarket today.
Federal Member for Farrer Sussan Ley says plans are in the works on how to get natural gas to Deniliquin.
New Transport Accident Commission research has revealed why some young country drivers habitually take risks on regional roads.
The Department of Environment and Primary Industries, Parks Victoria and Country Fire Authority will be performing planned burns in Goomalibee on Monday.
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