Maiden Gully YCW sets up finals berth; reigning premiers to miss

A VASTLY-IMPROVED second half of the season for Maiden Gully YCW will be rewarded with a return to finals netball.

The Eagles sealed fifth spot with a spirited six goal win against Pyramid Hill at Marist College on Saturday.

Their 42-36 win effectively killed off any hope Pyramid Hill had of defending its 2017 premiership crown, with the loss eliminating the Bulldogs from the finals race.

Maiden Gully YCW can climb as high as fourth if it is able to defeat Newbridge in next weekend’s final round encounter at Marist College.

That would be largely immaterial, with the Eagles and Maroons already inked in to face each other in the elimination final in a fortnight’s time.

The Eagles were able to jump the Bulldogs early and retained their composure to score an impressive win and atone for an earlier season six goal loss to Pyramid Hill.

After missing out on finals in 2017, Maiden Gully YCW star Leisa Barry said the Eagles had set themselves to be part of this season’s action.

With a recent win against Bridgewater and close calls against Mitiamo (two goals) and Calivil United (eight goals), there’s every reason to think the Eagles are capable of having an impact during the post-season.

“If we did win next week we’d go to fourth, not that it makes any difference, but it would be good from confidence point of view,” Barry said.

“We were shocking last time against Newbridge – it was probably our worst game for the season.

“We had a really flat game and I wouldn’t say any of us played really well.

“I remember it well; it was my 150th (game for the Eagles) and I was shattered that we lost.

“The first half of the season we weren’t matching it with the top teams at all, but now we’re coming close to beating some of them.

“We’re definitely a different team in the second half of the season.”

It shapes as a busy finals campaign for the Eagles, whose other three senior teams and 17-and-under and 15-and-under teams, are all occupying spots in the top three.

They hope to regain defender Laura Hamilton from injury in time for their first final.

Keys to the win against the Bulldogs were goal attack Maddy Ingram and goal defence Sam Nelson, who returned to the line-up following a few weeks’ absence with a hamstring injury.

“It was the best game Maddy has played all season, she really stood up – it’s the best I’ve ever seen her play,” Barry said.

“Sam was able to hold Zoe (Kennedy) and with her being held they were bit stuck on what to do.”

Meanwhile, third-placed Calivil United scored its second big win of the season against Newbridge.

The Demons won 60-30 at Calivil; the 30 goal margin was more than their 17 goal win earlier in the season over the Maroons at Newbridge.

Second-placed Bridgewater warmed up for finals with a 67-15 home win against bottom side Bears Lagoon-Serpentine.