Second-half blast fires Bullets past Breakaways
FORM often goes out the window for grand finals, and after getting the jump on the Bullets All Stars in the first quarter, the Breakaways Ninjas had every reason to believe they could produce the upset of the season.
After earning their place in the Hervey Bay Netball Division 1 decider with a 39-29 victory over Cosmos RSL last week, the Breakaways, who had lost to the Bullets 52-28 and 43-29 in their past two encounters, threw everything at the unbeaten minor premiers.
But as hard and fast as the Breakaways played, there was nothing they could do to halt the Bullets' charge to the crown.
After trailing at half-time, the Bullets fired back to take a two-goal lead into the final term before prevailing 34-31 in an entertaining match at Hervey Bay PCYC.
"It was a tough game and it was a good strong game from both sides," Bullets goalshooter Lisa Beavan said.
"We played our natural game and they played theirs and it was a fantastic grand final."
Played in a carnival atmosphere with banners and streamers flapping in the breeze and music blaring from the speakers, the grand final's all-star cast featuring Wide Bay Thundercats representatives Katrina Tate, Renea Burchell (All Stars), Renee Searle, Jodie Zagami and Corinne Crook (Ninjas) put on a show for the vocal crowd.
The Breakaways were the better side early, leading by five goals at quarter-time and by one at half-time.
Their centre court combination, led by Searle and Zagami, worked hard to move the ball quickly through the midcourt, while the addition of goalkeeper Melissa Honey made a big difference for the Breakaways.
The momentum swung in the third quarter.
With goalkeeper and player of the match Anna Anderson serving as the fulcrum of the All Stars' resistance, the Bullets were able to produce the sort of defensive display that has been the hallmark of their season.
Crushing pressure from the Bullets' defence created turnovers, while the ball movement from defence to attack was fast and fluent.
"We lifted and played smarter," Beavan said of her team's comeback.
"We saw it as just another game to alleviate those grand final jitters and for us it was about going out there and going for it and fortunately for us it turned out as a win for us."
After fighting tooth and nail to make the grand final go down to the wire, Breakaways captain Belinda Walkley said she couldn't fault the effort of her players.
"They gave it their all for four quarters and all the combinations we had played as one. They were just the better team on the day," she said.
"It was a very high standard game and awesome to play in and watch."
HERVEY BAY GRAND FINALS
Division 1: Bullets All Stars 34 def Breakaways Ninjas 31
Division 2a: Bullets Guns 34 def Bullets Ball Busters 32
Division 2b: Breakaways Samurais 36 def St James Flash 24
Division 6: Cosmos HBW 34 def Bullets Assassins 32
Division 7: Cosmos Hertz Angles 31 def St James Tigers 20
Division 8: Cosmos Hot Shots 32 def Comets Rocks 22
Division 9: Cosmos Sapphires 27 def Bullets Bears 18
Division 10: Bullets Bright Stars 25 def Flames Amber 13