Mount Pleasant overcame a courageous fightback from Colbinabbin to clinch back-to-back Heathcote District Netball Association A-grade premierships on Saturday.
In front of a big crowd at Hy-Line Australia Oval in Huntly, Mounts shot to a 12-goal lead in the first half, but had to fight from a goal down four times in the last quarter to win 53-52.
In the HDNA’s 50th year, it was the close grand final most people had expected between two of the Association’s foundation clubs.
The lead changed hands eight times in the last term, with both teams’ goalshooters – Gabe Richards for Mounts and the Grasshoppers’ Olivia McEvoy – outstanding.
As it had all match, Richards’ height proved telling as she scored her team’s last 10 goals.
The versatile Andrea Wilson was named best on court for her influence in establishing the Blues’ early lead and wresting it back.
Mounts coach Mandy Burrill said the experience of ending the club’s 21-year A-grade drought last year helped her team step up.
“I think (it helped), we kept composed. Gabe in shooter just kept it very, very controlled and protected thoughout,” Burrill said.
“Credit to Colbo, it’s just been tooth and nail all year, but we’re happy we came away with it.
“Our game plan was we wanted to come out with a jump, because we’ve been a bit slow off the mark all year.
“So we adjusted our game plan and we got the jump, but we forgot to maintain the intensity and, it’s a credit to Colbo, they came back at us. But in the end it’s back-to-back, so I’m pretty happy.”
Colbinabbin was left to rue its start to the match as the Blues led 18-9 at the first break.
Fed by the loopy pass over the top, Richards was unstoppable while goal attack Abbey Dorrington’s agility was the perfect foil.
Mounts led by 12 goals in the second quarter, before a late surge by Colbinabbin reduced the deficit to nine at the main break.
The Grasshoppers carried the momentum into the third quarter and outscored Mounts 19 goals to 12 to only trail 42-40 heading into the final term.
Colbinabbin’s mid-court began to get on top and handed more opportunities to McEvoy and goal-attack Felicity Ryan, but the Grasshoppers fell agonisingly short.
“It was a fairly epic fight and I think we’d all agree it was probably a spectators delight,” Colbinabbin coach Anne McEvoy said.
“(It was) probably not quite our day today, but I’m very proud of the girls the way they played in those last three quarters.”
The Grasshoppers won a thrilling A-reserve grand final 38-37, with Mounts fighting back to make it a goal-for-goal tussle in the final term.
A-reserve best and fairest, Mount Pleasant’s Kate McCann, was named the best player.
Colbo also won a close encounter in the B-grade grand final 38-36.
With scores locked at 34-all, the Grasshoppers took the lead and were never headed with mid-courter Letisha Stewart named best.
Mounts were too good in the B-reserve decider, claiming a 30-26 victory with Mounts’ Emma Mannes best on court.
Leitchville-Gunbower took the honours in the C-grade grand final, defeating Heathcote 37-27 to go through the season undefeated, with the Bombers’ Molly Hancock best on court.
In D-grade, Lockington-Bamawm United scored a 40-30 win against Colbinabbin, with Georgina Schroen the best on court.