LANCASTER will head into the finals with confidence after dispatching the Tigers by 72 points on the weekend.
It was a relatively even four-quarter effort by the Wombats with a final score of 17.18 (120) to 7.6 (48).
The Wombats’ Michael Hill continued his terrific form for the team, slotting seven majors and named best on ground.
The Tigers finished their final game of the season with a bang, with Rushworth forward Rob Osborne kicking the five goals he needed to reach the century mark.
However it wasn’t enough to close the margin between the teams, with Lancaster comfortably securing a win.
“We outran them, which was the part of the game we did well,” Lancaster coach Nick Bertoli said.
“It wasn’t our best performance as we had a few players down on confidence. But we didn’t have any flat quarters.”
Andrew Pettigrove played a strong game in the ruck, while Chris Eddy, Steve Thomson, Jack Donnell and Brad Orr also worked hard.
Rikki Busch will miss out on playing finals, sidelined by an injured calf muscle.
The Wombats will spend the coming days gearing up for an elimination final showdown with Stanhope on Saturday.
“We’ll go in with the best side we can possibly put out there,” he said.
“If we prepare as much as we can in advance and go in with a plan, we can hopefully pull off a win.”
IT WAS a nail-biting finish to the season for Lancaster with the Wombats defeating Rushworth with a tight one-point win.
After a slow start in the first quarter left them down by three points, Lancaster pushed back to finish with a six-point lead at half-time.
While a sluggish third quarter saw the Tigers dominate once again, the Wombats surged back in the final term to just claim the victory.
Despite a game that was patchy at times, Lancaster coach Laura Thomson said she was proud of the effort her girls put in.
“It was fantastic, it was so great to be able to finish off our season with a win,” Thomson said.
“It was a combined effort from the whole team, everyone played really well together. With a fighting spirit to play hard and not give up, we all worked until the end and stayed focused on our playing style.
“We had great turnovers and the rebounds from our defenders were brought down court calmly and smoothly into the goal ring. Our goalers also shot accurately from various positions in the ring.”
The final game of the season for both teams is sure to be competitive.
“We drew with them last time we played, so it was nice to have improved our game,” she said.
Reh Collyer played a consistent game in wing attack, feeding cleanly into the goal ring.
Emma Roberts also worked hard for the Wombats, keeping composure in the goal circle despite being matched with an experienced A Grade player.
Wrapping up her first year of A Grade coaching last weekend, Thomson said she has gotten a kick out of watching her team grow throughout the season.
“The team has been so supportive of my role as a playing coach this season and have been eager to listen to and incorporate my ideas,” she said.
“With only three girls remaining in the A Grade side from last year, I knew this year would involve a re-development.
“But the girls have eagerly stepped up from B Grade and the under 17s and have all improved so much and gelled well with each other on the court.
“We may not have had a lot of wins for the season, but we were certainly competitive when we played. Plus we have all had so much fun both on and off the court.”
STANHOPE secured its spot in the top three with a 43 point win against Tallygaroopna on the weekend.
The Lions dominated from the outset taking the first quarter 4.1 (25) to 0 (3), following it up with another dominant display in the second quarter to lead comfortably at the half-time break.
Tallygaroopna came out firing in the third term, slashing the gap to just eight points at three quarter time to trail 6.5 (41) to the lions 7.7 (49).
Despite the pressure going into the final term the Lions stormed home to take the win, finishing up 13.8 (86) to Tallygaroopna’s 6.7 (43), keeping them to just two behinds in a whitewash during the final quarter.
“It was a high intensity game with a lot of stoppages and contested possession which is what we were expecting going into it,” Stanhope coach Brenton Gray said.
“We really upped the ante to withstand the pressure Tallygaroopna put onto us and to take the win is a great way to round off the regular season.”
James Gray kicked six majors to be the leading goal scorer on the ground, with Thomas Hepburn’s two goals being the only other multiple goal converter for the Lions.
“James had a back injury earlier in the season so he is still not at his best yet and will only get better as the matches go on,’’ Gray said.
“We have several major goal kickers up forward who can score well but our inaccuracy on goal has cost us over the season, so that’ll be something we’ll be working on for finals.”
Brenton said injuries were something that were being kept in check for the games to come, with a few players being monitored closely to avoid adding to the injured list.
“We’ll be aiming to rotate players through the bench consistently and make sure we spread the load so we don’t push them too hard and provoke any avoidable injuries.”
The Lions go up against sixth-placed Lancaster at Undera Recreation Reserve this Saturday to kick off the final series.
The last match the Lions played against the Wombats saw a hard fought encounter, with the Lions holding on to take the win by 10 points.
“They are a young side full of run and buzz so we’ll be looking to put on a lot of pressure early and take control of the game from the start,’’ Gray said.
He said his side would be taking each match as it comes for the finals ahead.
Gray said he hoped his side would make it to the grand final.
“We’ll fine tune a couple of things in training and hopefully create some momentum to get us deep into the finals this year,’’ he said.
STANHOPE’S A grade netball side had a tough assignment for its final game of the regular season on the weekend, taking on third placed Tallygaroopna on home turf.
The Lions were pushed throughout the whole game by the opposition but they proved too strong and took the win 41-38 in a close match.
“We came out strong and got off to a great start in the early stages of the match,” coach Kerrie Gray said.
“Tallygaroopna put the pressure on after that though and we didn’t respond well to it.
“Despite the pressure and the initial impact it had, the players rallied around each other well to bring home the win.”
Jenna Oliver played a crucial part in defence to slow the onslaught, supported well in transitions forward by Jamison Vick in the centre of the court.
The win continues a strong back half of the season from the Lions, after a tough start saw them go on a six match losing streak from the second round.
“It’s been a good season overall and it was satisfying to turn the tables on Tallygaroopna after they beat us earlier in the season,’’ Gray said.
“It was hard to stay positive during those losses we had in the early stages of the season but we pushed through it.
“I think being able to turn that form around was a big positive for us and allowed the players to grow as they saw their hard work each week being converted to the scoreboard.”
Gray said it almost felt like the team had already played finals with the sides they had gone up against.
“We’ll be taking the finals one week at a time and will continue the hard work we always do each week to hopefully go a long way into them,’’ she said.