KYABRAM’S A grade netballers were tested in Saturday night’s Goulburn Valley Netball League qualifying final, finishing with a nail-biting four-point win against Shepparton.
The 250-strong crowd was left holding its breath as the two top teams went head-to-head, the Bears working hard to prevail over the undefeated side.
Both teams fought for coveted possession of the ball, with a vocal audience erupting in cheers at each intercept.
While Shepparton made season history as the first side to come within single figures of the Goulburn Valley League’s most formidable side, Bombers coach Belinda Lees said it was the challenge her girls were hungry for.
“We were ready for a tough, contested game and Shepparton came out firing,’’ Lees said.
‘‘They were really physical and it wasn’t as free flowing as we were used to.
“We knew what we were going to get so I said to the girls enjoy it and fight through the ebbs and flows and just stay together and play our game.
“It was a really good challenge to our systems and structure and highlighted the areas we can improve in and how we can continue to build confidence even under pressure.”
Lauren Pryde and Ash Mangan continued their dominant display on the court, with Mangan remaining a driver of the ball through the midcourt with her persistent leads.
Taking on Melbourne Vixens training partner Kim Commane, the duo piled pressure on the star goal shooter.
“She had her hands full dealing with our defensive end, to be honest. Pryde and Mangan worked really hard,” Lees said.
While leading by four goals in the first quarter and three at half time, the Bombers struggled to dominate as they have for the majority of the season.
But Lees said the Bombers felt in control for the entire game.
“Five goals seemed like a lot in the context of the match and the scoreboard pressure was definitely there, but we managed to maintain a lead in a tough four quarters of netball,” she said.
‘‘The defence end stood up when we were disconnected in our attack end and we had flow-ons where my attack end was fantastic.
‘‘It was really confidence-building going forward knowing we’ve got another four gears to go and that wasn’t our best.’’
Free of injuries, the Bombers are a bit bruised and battered after a tense, physical game against the Bears.
Lees lauded the umpires for doing a “brilliant job” at keeping the game clean.
Up against Shepparton United in the semi-finals, Lees said the team looks forward to playing a full game against the side after their last clash was scrapped before half time due to issues with the courts at Deakin Reserve.
“Our focus now is to get on top of Shepp United before we think about anything else,” she said.
“They played a highly contested game against Echuca on the weekend, so we know we’ll be up for a challenge. We’ll just keep our pressure up and will hopefully come out with another win.”