COROWA-Rutherglen heads into its first final series in two decades riding the crest of a wave after a stunning final-quarter comeback against reigning premiers Lavington.
The Roos were down by six at the last break in a see-sawing contest.
But with former Panther Jess Bice unstoppable in the goal circle and Simone Hanrahan equally impressive at the defensive end they were able to reel in Lavington and win by a goal, 46-45, for the second time this year.
Coach Beck O’Connell said the Roos refused to lay down.
“These girls just don’t give up,” she said.
“I think that makes it three or perhaps four fourth-quarter comebacks this year.
“They had the biggest lead of the game going into the final quarter but we talked about finals intensity and finding something when you are spent, when there is nothing left in the tank, and that is exactly what the girls did.
“In many ways the result meant nothing — it wasn’t going to change the final five or who we play next week but that makes it even more special.
“We locked ourselves into finals after Albury lost last week but we wanted to get there on our own merits, on winning form.”
Corowa-Rutherglen will head to Myrtleford on Sunday for the elimination final against the only team in the top five to beat them twice this year, North Albury.
“We had two draws with Wodonga, beat Yarra and won twice against Lavington so we know we can match it with the top sides,” O’Connell said.
“But the Hoppers beat us by almost 30 the first time and then again last week.
“We just have to take it 15 minutes at a time, try to get the better of our individual opponent and the result should take care of itself.”
Wodonga flexed its muscles with a 62-27 demolition of Wangaratta Rovers.
The Bulldogs had the luxury of star shooter Jane Cook for the entire game after the end of her commitments to the Australian Netball League outfit the Melbourne Flames.
Liona Edwards played her first half of A-grade netball after overcoming a foot injury.
“It was a great way to tune up for the finals,” coach Kylie Murphy said.
“It was great to have Jane and Liona back — we were able to rotate a few through the mid court as well and that will give us some options heading into the finals.”
Wodonga will play Lavington in the qualifying final at the W.J. Findlay Oval on Saturday.
“Lavington could be a little down on confidence going into this game on the back of two losses, but we are not about to underestimate them,” Murphy said.
“They’re last year’s premiers and probably have the best defence in the competition.”