GISBORNE will contest its first BFNL A-grade grand final since 2013 after downing Sandhurst by 12 goals in Sunday’s second semi-final at the QEO.
A full-strength Bulldogs grabbed the ascendancy early in the contest and never relinquished their grip to notch a 57-45 win.
The victory was the Bulldogs’ second this season against the reigning premiers, but first with their full complement of players.
In an ominous warning for their grand final rival – either Sandhurst or Kangaroo Flat, which upset Eaglehawk on Saturday night – coach Kim Bailey insisted the Bulldogs had even further room for improvement.
“I thought our defence was down a little today, but the ball movement was much better than last week,” she said.
“I think our shooters gelled a lot better today and we just kept a stable centre (Tiana Newman) on the court, which seemed to work pretty well.
“Ella Bertachinni was at goal attack and she was our best on court and Calre Vearing only missed about three shots for the game and was outstanding.
“Tiana Newman in the centre had a phenomenal game – she would have taken four of five intercepts throughout the game and at really vital times.”
Bertachinni did well to recover from a sprained ankle sustained against Eaglehawk last week and will be one Bulldogs player appreciative of the weekend off next week.
Putting the result into perspective, Bailey felt Sandhurst was likely hindered by a lack of recent match-play.
The Dragons did not play in the first week of finals after finishing as minor premiers and also had the bye in round 18.
Next week’s preliminary final shapes as a blockbuster, with the Dragons and Roos playing out a draw earlier in the season.
Sandhurst won the clubs’ other encounter by three goals.