KANGAROO Flat's superb qualifying final win over Gisborne has come at a huge cost, with star defender Kate Burton to miss the rest of the BFNL finals series.
Burton fractured her ankle in the final quarter of the Roos' 50-35 victory over the Bulldogs and will go undergo surgery.
An impressive performance has propelled the Roos into a second semi-final showdown against Sandhurst next weekend, but the moment was soured by the season-ending injury to Burton.
Kangaroo Flat coach Jayden Cowling said the injury had brought tears to the playing group, and took some gloss off what had been a strong win for the team, against an opponent it had not beaten since early in the 2017 season.
"Nobody could believe it ... the girls were pretty upset," he said.
"Gisborne was pretty shattered too - we had to move the game on to the opposite court.
"But credit to the girls, they finished the game strong to outscore them 8-1 at the end. I am so proud of the girls to finish it off well considering the circumstances, but they were heartbroken and devastated for Kate."
Burton, a grand final player with Strathfieldsaye in 2015, only joined the Roos this season after a break from netball and premiership stints with Charlton in 2016 and Pyramid Hill in 2017.
The skilful and athletic defender would be one of the favourites for the Roos' best and fairest award and should poll well in this season's Betty Thompson Medal count.
"She's had a standout year, not only one of the best on court each week, but just such a team player with her training and hard work," she said.
"She's been the best asset I've had as a recruit (in two seasons as A-grade coach), it's just heartbreaking."
Cowling praised a quick start as influential in their eye-catching 15-goal win.
Looking forward to next week's clash against the Dragons, the Roos coach said Ingrid Hopkins would slot back into goal defence, with several options in contention for the vacant wing defence spot.
On a brighter note, the Roos will be encouraged by the strong return of goal shooter Annie Spear, who missed the previous week's clash against Eaglehawk with a hamstring injury.
She again teamed well with goal attack Julia Clarke, who presented the Gisborne defence with plenty of concerns.
The Bulldogs will need to rebound quickly ahead of a clash against eaglehawk, which ended South Bendigo's season in Sunday's elimination final with a 45-33 victory.
The Bulldogs' lost to Hawks four weeks ago, one of three defeats in four weeks for the team, all against finals teams.
Kangaroo Flat can now head in to its match against Sandhurst with confidence, after the teams split their earlier season matches.
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