Wimmera Netball Association team wins in physical encounter | Community Netball Championships 2017

A TOUGH and exciting open interleague netball encounter was eventually won by the Wimmera Netball Association team after double-extra time on Saturday.

After the Wimmera and Murray sides were locked together at full time and two halves of extra time the away team got over the line to secure a 55-53 win.

Coach Gayle Leith said she had not witnessed a game like it before.

“It was a great game to watch,” she said.

“It was a hard fought game where players were allowed to contest for the ball.”

A big crowd gathered to watch the game as excitement built around the Moama Recreation Reserve court.

As both teams settled in the first quarter the game remained tight and goals were difficult to come by.

Kirby Knight led the way shooting seven of her side’s goals and the teams went to the first break locked at 9-9.

“I’ve never seen Kirby pushed to the ground during a match before but she went down a couple of times,” Leith said.

“She doesn’t get to play against people of her height and strength all that often, but she adjusted well during the game.”

During the second quarter the home side started to click. It opened up a 23-18 lead by half-time.

It was the only break in the game when the scores were not locked together and it prompted Leith to make changes to the starting lineup.

Emma Buwalda came on to play goal attack, Jess Kelly moved into the goal keeper role and Rianna Kuhne was handed the wing defence bib.

It proved a good move as the Wimmera side closed the gap in the third quarter and it was 33-33 at the final change.

Buwalda had already played in the 17 and under game where she was named best on court but showed little signs of fatigue on a hot day.

She shot 15 goals in 16 attempts in the third quarter as Kirby Knight started to play more of a feeder role.

“Emma is a brilliant player,” Leith said.

“She was sitting on the bench and I said to her that we needed her to go on because Jess Elder was not finishing as well as she normally does.”

It was more of the same tough contest in the final quarter of the match but it was the ability of the Wimmera side to call on its bench players that allowed it to hold strong.

Ant Toet relieved Billie Bibby and Jess Elder returned to the court to replace a tiring Jodie Hayes at centre.

At the end of regulation the score was 42-42.

“We’ve had draws in interleague in the past and just left it at that but we continued into extra time,” Leith said.

Hayes and Bibby returned to the court in extra time but scores remained equal after two halves.

“They didn’t tell us and just let us keep playing until one team got a two goal advantage,” Leith said.

Ultimately it was the travelling Wimmera side that prevailed after a gutsy effort.

“What out team lacks in height they more than made up for in determination,” Leith said.

“There wasn’t anyone out there who was carried. It is a credit to them and how they went about it.”