HORSHAM Saints will play in Wimmera Netball Association’s A Grade finals for the first time since 2009.
The Saints recorded an upset 48-44 win over Dimboola at Coughlin Park on Saturday to seal a top-five finish with one round of home and away matches remaining.
It was a change of fate for the Saints, who had lost their previous two matches to the Roos this season by a combined seven goals.
The Roos started well, jumping out to a 13-9 quarter-time lead before the Saints hit the front by a goal at the major break.
The host extended its lead by just one goal in the third term, setting up a tantalising finish before holding on for an important victory.
Saints coach Di Hayes said beating the Roos was a confidence booster for her team.
“It was a really tough game,” she said.
“That’s the third time we’ve played them for the season and every match has been really well fought all game.
“The first five minutes wasn’t great for us, but we got our act together and started playing some really good netball and applying some really good defensive pressure.
“My girls really gelled together and played a consistent four quarters.”
The win was the Saints’ seventh for the season and means all seven of the club’s sides have secured a finals berth.
“I wouldn’t think we’ve had all grades in finals for a number of years,” Hayes said.
“It’s really great for the club and all our members.”
Hayes said shooters Sharon Fedke, 34 goals, and Alaura McRae, 13, were the Saints’ stand-outs at the weekend, while defensive duo Marnie Lehmann and Jarni Hansen were also strong.
Dimboola was well served by defender Eva Hoffmann and centre Grace Braithwaite, while shooter Billie Barber converted 26 scoring opportunities.
The Roos remain in fourth place on the ladder despite the loss and will face the Saints in an elimination final in a fortnight’s time.
The Roos, who face Minyip-Murtoa on Saturday, are likely to retain fourth place, while the Saints have a tough task against league-leader Horsham.
Hayes said it would be the perfect preparation for a cut-throat final for her Saints.
“It will be interesting to see how we come up against them given we have improved a great deal,” she said.
“It will be a good one going into finals to have another pressure match.”
Warrack Eagles gave ladder-leader Horsham a scare in their match at Brim Recreation Reserve.
The third-placed Eagles were in the contest at half-time, with scores tied at 25-all.
But the Demons proved their class after the major break, running away with a 56-35 win.
Midcourter Mardi Isbel and goalie Georgia Duncan, 36 goals, led the way for the Demons.
Eagles coach Megan Werner, 19 goals, and wing defence Jane Richardson were the host’s best.
The Eagles are guaranteed to finish third – regardless of the outcome of their match against Nhill on Saturday – while a Demons win against the Saints will secure the minor premiership.
Ararat recorded its 10th consecutive victory, thumping Nhill 76-32 at Alexandra Oval, Ararat.
Rats goalie Tahnee Walker shot a remarkable 65 goals at 84 per cent accuracy, while defender Danielle Borrelli was also among the host’s best.
Defensive duo Sarah Etherton and Charlotte King fought hard for the Tigers alongside shooter Lauren Etherton.
The Tigers will target their first win in their final match against Warrack Eagles, while Ararat should beat Stawell and finish second.
Stawell pipped Minyip-Murtoa 31-28 in a close contest at Murtoa Recreation Reserve.
The Burras led by a goal at the first change before the Warriors claimed the lead at half-time and held on to win.
Nadia Bunge and Ellen Williams were named the Warriors’ best, while Tegan Kerrins and Jacinta Sheridan stood out for the Burras.
The Warriors and Burras are out of finals calculations but have pride to play for when they take on Ararat and Dimboola respectively at the weekend.