Last week Bonnie McKenzie shot the winning goal against Magpies and this week against Vikings had the first shot however her counterpart Amanda Horner scored the first goal of the game. This achievement had a quick reply from Vikings Lara Etchells. There was no panic by Vikings in the goal circle. Quick passing in the goal third prior to flicking the ball into the goal circle paid a positive advantage to a first quarter 13-7 lead. By half time Vikings had a 27-18 lead. There was danger of a blow-out for St Joseph.
Libby Harrison tried her hardest to defend Vikings Tiana Freeman out of her dominance in the goal circle. Harrison blocked Freeman ready for rebounds but accuracy defeated the objective. Freeman’s height advantage to receive well placed lob passes from Casey Lukich and Belinda Myles made the task of subduing the Freeman authority difficult for both Harrison and Abby Whitaker. Vikings were also including their other dynamic scoring option. Reliable Lara Etchells was on a scoring spree. What were the options for St Joseph?
One option was to attack back. Horner and McKenzie decided to split Vikings defenders with some cunning double moves to successfully scores goals. They could not afford to miss as Vikings defenders Lily Fullerton and Courtney Webb were very enthusiastic rebounders. Regardless of the effort from St Josephs everything was still going merrily in Vikings favour at three quarter time 39-27.
St Joseph needed to sort out its midcourt passing errors. Missing targets, passing too early and forcing the ball into the goal circle was not a path to a winning formula. By readjusting tactics Amy Green, Ebony Butler and Brooke Groth did well to introduce midcourt pressure on Vikings midcourt players to earn turnovers.
When there was a thought of no hope the momentum of the game swung to St Josephs. On pure adrenalin St Josephs whittled down the deficit to within 5 goals. With 3 minutes to go injuries struck Vikings and St Josephs. Harrison off with an ankle injury, Dalla Santa on to face Freeman, Lukich off, Forsyth on to face Groth. The race was on for goals. Unbelievably St Joseph outscored Vikings in the last quarter 20-11. Vikings slid over the line 50-47. It was an astonishing conclusion.
It is another Grand Final rematch between Railways and Vikings for the A grade Premiership.
Finals games can produce an unpredictable result. How true. Did Vikings expect to be only one goal behind Railways at half time? Probably not, but it was an incentive to strive towards who was best on court. It was impressive to see the A Grade Railways Team and supporters on the sideline cheering encouragement and on the other side of the court the Vikings A Grade Team and supporters emulating the same reinforcement.
As expected, Angela McAuliffe and Jenna Glamuzina with Jaedina-Rose Venning held the Railway defence line together. Enough latitude was afforded to McAuliffe to intercept easy to read Vikings midcourt passes. The fast hustle and bustle across the court was fabulous to watch. One miscalculation Vikings midcourt players made was trying on a second attempt to get an overhead pass to their goalies with McAuliffe hovering in front. There are no second chances with McAuliffe. The ball was snapped up for a Railway turnover. If you beat McAuliffe on the first effort do not go for a retry.
The other strength in the first half was Railways goal shooter Kelly Thompson. She was in a game winner frame of mind in the goal circle with support from Eliza Parker. Vikings defenders Jade Dawson and Celeste Ticehurst could not intimidate the goalies to falter in accuracy. No rebounds no turnovers.
In the second half there was a mood change. Vikings worked out its oversights and rectified its approach to the game. Vikings goalies upped the tempo. Carlee Margitich and Kellie Von Sneddon worked for front positioning to receive passes from Holly Nayda and Jessica Freeman. Confidence increased and so did the accuracy for goals. A strategy was working.
When passing errors were made in the goal third by Railways, Ticehurst intercepted and put Vikings into attack. The fast pace of the game relied on players being in tune with the passing tempo. One slip-up the opposition had possession. Vikings won possessions and came through the thrilling encounter winners 44-38. What a surprise!
Top seeded Quorn are prepared for an eager Vikings team in the Grand Final.