The Busselton Magpies open netball team brought home the trophy in the South West Football Netball League for the first time in 10 years. The team saved their best netball for a thrilling grand final encounter with the HBL Lions at Eaton on Friday night emerging victorious. For more on this story visit busseltonmail.com.au.
HBL were the favourites given their win over Busselton in the semi final, but the Magpies took no notice of their underdog status.
A turnover off the first HBL centre pass gave Busselton possession within seconds of the first whistle and from there ensued an epic battle as each team desperately sought premiership.
HBL won the first battle, but Busselton kept up their defensive pressure to make an impact on the Lions renowned mid-court flow.
Belle Hancock and Rennie Sansom contested a strong first ball and Riley Culnane and Harmony Sutherland were determined to give the HBL shooters no space to hold.
At the other end of the court, experienced goal attacker Maia Bratten led the charge by piling on goals that saw the Magpies take a six point lead into the first break.
In the second term, the Lions powerhouse Myra Ugle took to the court and shot effortlessly from everywhere, reversing the trend and reducing the deficit.
Exciting defence from both teams saw plenty of drama with Lions Jessica Repacholi in blistering form, putting her body on the line to chase down the free ball.
As the Lions pushed ahead, the Magpies fought desperately to hold onto their lead and while plenty of ball made it to the shooting circle, Emma Borinelli suffered a rare loss of confidence in her shot and the Lions rebounded with relish.
The quarter closed with Busselton clinging to a one goal lead and HBL pumped up with renewed vigour.
The third quarter saw Busselton reshuffle their lineup, with Sutherland moved to wing defence and Tammy Thornley into goal defenceto counter Ugles dominance.
Goal keeper Culnane continued to circle menacingly on shooter Renae Cashell - frustrating the HBL ball carriers - causing them uncharacteristic errors.
Thornley matched Ugles physicality and raised the bar, at one point the girls ended up in a wrestle for possession on the floor.
Ash Rittson kept up her solid work in wing attack, combining well with Borinelli to give Busselton multiple options in the forward line.
Bratten was relentless and wore down the HBL defenders with her tenacity.
As the scoreline opened up again in the Magpie's favour, the stress started to show for the Lions kept making errors and giving away penalties. The third term ended with Magpies in front by six goals.
Busselton injected Brooke Gibson into goal attack and her speed and youthful exuberance reignited the Magpies attack immediately.
The versatile Sutherland showed flair while Claire Jennings in wing defence worked hard to deny space to Tenielle Treloar.
Repacholi was resolute in her efforts to keep HBL in the game, but could not find an easy path to the shooters.
Fatigue and pressure saw the Lions fall away and the Magpies soar.
The final score 44-32, with most valuable player awarded to HBL’s rising star Jessica Repacholi.
Registration for the Busselton Magpies 2018 Open, reserves and 18 teams can be made on the Busselton Netball Association website’s ‘register here’ tab.
For more information visit the Busselton Magpies Netball Club Facebook page.