YARRAWONGA was in seventh heaven yesterday making it into yet another grand final.
Having won the past four premierships, the Pigeons have reached an Ovens and Murray grand final for the seventh year in succession after beating Wodonga 50 to 38.
The Pigeons now have the chance to set that bar higher still when they take on Lavington in the grand final.
But on the other side of elation there’s disappointment and Bulldogs coach Kelli Moylan couldn’t hide hers.
“I think the most disappointing thing is we have beaten them three times this year and have beaten Lavington,” she said.
“And now we know we won’t get the opportunity next week is extremely disappointing.
“We just didn’t play very well today but they did.
“Their defenders were their strength throughout the game and we struggled in our attack — their defenders were on top and that was the difference.”
With everything still to play for at half-time, the Bulldogs trailing 20 to 23, the Pigeons knew that a big third quarter could make or break their tilt at history making.
Only weeks earlier the Pigeons had led the Bulldogs at half-time, only to go on to lose the round 17 clash.
But this time things were very different, with a young Abbey Jones coming on at half-time for the Pigeons in goal attack, bringing fresh legs and pace to the attack.
The 15-year-old made an immediate impact, with the Pigeons netting a series of unanswered goals.
At the other end, Jane Cook, also 15, made a formidable target for the Bulldogs and at 198 centimetres caused plenty of headaches with 23 goals.
But Moylan said the Pigeons’ defence made it ever harder to get the ball to Cook.
“Kaitlyn Cummins was fantastic in wing defence and seemed to be everywhere taking intercepts all over the court,” she said.
“And Annalise Grinter in goal defence had a real nullifying role against Bec Cameron (goal attack).
“As a team we were down all over the court.”
Despite the loss, Moylan said she was proud of her team’s efforts throughout the year.
“I’m extremely proud of the girls,” she said.
“We lost our first game of the season to Corowa and at that stage I thought it could be a very long year.
“But the team has gone from strength to strength, they’ve got better as the season’s gone on.
“You’ve got to be very proud of what they’ve achieved throughout the year.”
Gemma Grimmond and Sarah Thomas were best for the Bulldogs, while Jones was named best for the Pigeons for her electrifying second half, along with Cummins.
Meanwhile, Pigeons coach Bridget Cassar netted a 31-goal haul.
The Pigeons will now face Lavington in the grand final next week, the Panthers’ first since 1998.