Netball | Wodonga Bulldogs hold nerve to grab final spot

Wodonga Bulldogs' shooter Jane Cook.
Wodonga Bulldogs' shooter Jane Cook.

WODONGA has booked a shot at a direct route to the grand final with a stirring come from behind win against reigning premier Lavington.

Trailing by seven in the first quarter and still down by a goal at the last change the Bulldogs took control in the final quarter to win 46-40 on Saturday.

Defences dominated at both ends but Wodonga shooter Jane Cook was still able to shoot at close to 90 per cent, the Dogs able to shoot a winning score despite having three fewer shots than the Panthers.

The Dogs will now take on Yarrawonga to qualify for the grand final Lavington will play Corowa-Rutherglen in Sunday’s knockout semi-final.

Wodonga coach Kylie Murphy said she never lost faith.

“At three-quarter time I said to the girls to just dig deep, that we can do this and they delivered,” she said.

“It was a great game where the momentum shifted several times.

“They were up by seven at one stage in the first quarter, then we were in front at half-time and they were in front at three-quarter time.

“But despite the scoreline I felt like we were always in the contest.”

Murphy said defences dominated.

“The intensity was much higher than the regular season,” she said.

“We are used to scoring more goals than we did today but against the toughest defensive combination in the competition, playing in a final it makes it much tougher — we had to be patient.

“Sarah Meredith was good for them but our defence was outstanding taking some vital intercepts in the closing minutes.

“Gemma Grimmond was among our best but Rebekah Ohlins was also outstanding — really solid, tough in defence.”

Lavington coach Brooke Spinelli was yesterday already looking at next week’s opponents in the knockout final.

“We just have to play our brand of netball,” she said.

“Ainslee O’Connell will be better for playing half a game after an ankle injury and a couple of other girls will have benefited from a game of finals netball.

“Corowa play quick, short passes and work hard for each other.”

Murphy said they would head to next Saturday’s clash with the Pigeons with everyone available.

“Liona Edwards played just the three quarters but everyone pulled up fine,” she said.

“Jane Cook did great — they were very physical on her but when we were able to get her the ball she made it count.

“Yarra is always a fantastic game — they are a fast and energetic side and I’d expect it to be a high scoring game.”