Work friends are foes on the netball court

They might be workmates, but today they will be each enemies in the Bendigo Football Netball League A-grade grand final. 

Teachers at St Monica’s Primary School, Eaglehawk’s Lauren Ryan and Sandhurst’s Lucy Spalding will do battle at the Queen Elizabeth Oval. 

Teaching together for the first time this year, the pair went to university together and had previously been netball team-mates. 

Goaler Spalding was a member of the Eaglehawk outfit in 2007, where she played alongside defender Ryan. 

But today they are rivals and could well end up playing on one another.

“We might not be starting on each other – I could start at goalkeeper – but it’s going to be tough and a lot of fun,” Ryan said. 

The Eaglehawk defender was quick to boast about her previous battles with Spalding this season.

“I gave her a knock to the ground during one of the games,” Ryan said with a laugh. 

Ryan and Spalding are yet to taste premiership glory, but know what it’s like to be in a grand final. 

Ryan was involved in the 2010 grand final against Kangaroo Flat, where the Hawks lost by a goal. 

Spalding was involved in the 2009 grand final, where she played for Golden Square and went on to lose the final by 13 goals to Flat. 

The Hawks and the Hurst have had three tight battles this season, although the Borough won all of them – by one goal in round six and four goals in round 15, before a 17-goal thrashing in the second semi-final.

Spalding, who usually plays at goal attack, admitted her side wasn’t ready for the Two Blues.

“Eaglehawk were the better team on the night – they were so fast and just too good,” she said. 

This season, Ryan teamed up with Heather Oliver, who played with the Bendigo Spirit. Both defenders are from Wangaratta originally. 

Ryan said she had enjoyed playing with Oliver.

“It’s been really good; when I heard that she didn’t want to play basketball any more I approached her straight away. She hadn’t played netball for seven years and she has fitted in perfectly,” Ryan said. 

The pair’s opponents, Spalding and Jasmine Finnigan, have also teamed up nicely this year. Finnigan also has basketball background. 

“It’s been fun teaming up with Jasmine; we have been friends for a while and she is new to netball also,” Spalding said of Finnigan. 

Ryan said preparation for this grand final had been much the same as it had been all season. 

The Hawks had a practice match against its A-reserve team and did some ball work at the QEO last night.

Spalding believed her side had what it took to be the A-grade champions, but said her team needed to lift after being soundly beaten a fortnight ago.

“We need to make sure we are ready and not let Eaglehawk get an easy run this time,” she said.

The A-grade game will start at 3pm.

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