ALBURY will play in its first grand final since 2001 after upsetting minor premier Lavington 44-43 in extra-time in the preliminary final at Albury Sportsground on Sunday.
In front of a big crowd, Tiger shooters Jess Fisher-Curnow and Bree Poole maintained their composure under intense pressure to give their side a shot at Wangaratta in next weekend’s decider.
Coach Olivia Aughton put the victory down to sheer determination.
“We just backed each other,” Aughton said.
“I’m so proud of the girls.
“We needed to keep attacking and not go defensive and I thought we did that.
“I would say they have the best defence in the Ovens and Murray and our girls in attack just absolutely worked their backsides off.
“It was incredible.”
Albury opened up a four-goal break in the third quarter before Lavington hit back strongly to lead 27-23 at the last change.
Although the Panthers had the momentum, the home team wasn’t about to blow another opportunity and took the match into extra-time with the scores 36-all.
The pressure took its toll on both sides during extra-time but it was the Tigers who came out on top.
Aughton paid tribute to youngster Poole’s coolness.
“Talk about development,” she said.
“She’s been at our club since she was a bub, gone through all the grades and now she’s playing in an A-grade grand final.”
Poole and Fisher-Curnow were outstanding against Lavington’s strong defence while Olivia and Bridget Aughton proved just as effective at the other end of the court.
Lavington defender Rhiannon Dolahenty was typically strong and Senini capped off another solid showing with 26 goals.
Albury has started underdogs in its three finals against North Albury, Yarrawonga and Lavington and will be in a similar situation against Wangaratta next weekend.
“It’s really special,” Aughton said.
“Hard work pays off and the girls have dug deep.
“We know we have the talent and we just have to bring it on the day.
“We’re looking forward to it.”
Wangaratta and Albury, along with Wodonga Raiders, are the only clubs who have never won an A-grade premiership.
In a heart-breaking day, the Panthers went down to Wangaratta 32-31 in B grade.
Lavington took the honours against Yarrawonga 37-33 in C grade and Wodonga Raiders accounted for Wangaratta Rovers 42-31 in 16 and under.