Pyramid Hill upstages Mitiamo to win LVFNL netball flag

PYRAMID Hill has upstaged Mitiamo to claim its second LVFNL A-grade netball premiership in three years.

The Bulldogs – under the guidance of coach Deb Forster – capped a stunning season with a 45-38 grand final triumph at Serpentine.

Their win was set up in a dominant first half, with the Bulldogs winning the first two quarters by four and six goals respectively, to set up a handy 10-goal lead at the main break.

As expected from a Superoos team, which lost just one season during the regular season and advanced to the premiership decider with a victory in their only prior finals match, Mitiamo surged in the third quarter to pull within five goals.

But a purposeful and tenacious Bulldogs were able to hold their nerve and score a spirited seven-goal win.

They were brilliantly led by their skipper Gabby Kennedy and goal attack Zoe Kennedy, who won the umpires’ nod as best on court.

But as their coach was quick to reinforce post-match, it would be a disservice to all seven girls who took to the court, to single out individuals.

“Zoe is just so quick, she opens the game up coming into the ring, she’s just an awesome player,” Forster said.

“But all the girls played well and played their part.

“Kate (Burton) was awesome, Gabby really stepped up, drove the ball and displayed strong hands.

“But again, it was just a real team effort.”

The Superoos swung a surprise, with top defender Tahnee Cannan a shock inclusion after she was expected to miss the game with Bendigo Lady Braves SEABL grand final commitments.

Cannan, who finished fourth in the  league best and fairest medal count, played the first half before making a dash for Melbourne to join her Lady Braves teammates in time for their grand final at Kilsyth Sports Centre.

Forster said it was a credit to her players that they were not fazed by her surprise appearance.

“I think with plenty of talk about (her not playing), we were able to put it behind us very quickly,” she said.

“The last time we played Mitiamo we only lost by two, and she played, and we had a bit of a mix-up in the last two minutes with Abbey (Dingwall) coming off and them scoring two goals, so we were confident we could win either way.”

After a dominant season by the Superoos, Forster conceded some might not have seen the grand final result coming, but the coach went into the premiership decider confident, impressed with the way in her players had approached the game all week.

“Talking with the girls during the week, they were more excited than nervous – that’s got to be a good thing,” she said.

“Thursday night came and the girls were pumped, and that makes me feel less nervous as coach.

“Credit to Mitiamo, they had a great season and really made a run in the third quarter.”

While their form during the year, in being the only team to beat Mitiamo and registering at least one win over all other teams, pointed to the Bulldogs giving the premiership a real shake, it was in many respects a fairytale win.

Just 17 months ago the club came perilously close to not entering an A-grade team, following a string of player losses.

It was Forster, who answered a last-minute call to coach a team which contained just three of Saturday’s premiership line-up, and had been keen to retain the role heading into the new season.

The now premiership coach said she had been keen to retain the role heading into the new season.

“I didn’t just want to finish last year and be that ‘fill-in’, I wanted to build on it and give it a good go this year,” she said.

“I can’t believe we just won,” she added, acknowledging the win had not quite sunk in in the minutes after the final siren.

It was a season not without its hiccups. The Bulldogs recovered from a 0-2 start to win their next six games straight and 12 of 14 heading into the post-season, before a first-up finals loss to Newbridge.

Zoe Kennedy said her teammates belief they could win the flag had never wavered, even after their qualifying final loss to the Maroons.

“We had a bit of regroup I guess and we all got together and talked and sorted a few things out,” she said.

“That really helped and steadied this group for the next couple of finals.

“Looking back now, it was probably a great thing to happen for us. I don’t think we would be here now if that didn’t happen to us three weeks ago.”

For the second-straight year, a season which brought few defeats, ended in heartache for the gallant Superoos.

Coach Jenny Clohesy spoke for her entire team when she sincerely said they were “gutted”.

“The pressure was right on from the start and we lost our way a bit and took too long to get back into our way of thinking,” she said.

“They never gave in and that’s been the beauty of these girls all year – they have been the most amazing bunch of girls I have ever coached in my life.

“I’m more disappointed for them. I thought we had the team to do it, but give Pyramid their dues, they got on top us from the start and really carried on.

“It’s the same thing that happened last year against Newbridge and something we will probably have to address.”

The Superoos had tireless workers in wing attack Gabrielle Marlow and wing defence Abbey Hay, while Julia Twigg impressed at goal keeper.

The premiership line-up comprised: Jess Holdstock (goal shooter), Zoe Kennedy (goal attack), Gabby Kennedy (wing attack), Gemma Scott (centre), Emily Prout (wing defence), Kate Burton (goal defence), Abbey Dingwall (goal keeper), and Lauren Moon (sub).