HORSHAM Demons are through to Wimmera Netball Association’s A Grade grand final after beating minor premiers Warrack Eagles.
Each team had beaten the other once this season in tight contests, and Saturday’s semi-final at Ararat lived up to expectations.
In captain Emma Koschitzke’s 200th game, the Eagles started the more settled of the two teams and broke the Demons early to open up a small lead.
The team managed to hold the ascendancy during the quarter and went into first break with a three-goal lead.
Horsham coach Pauline Butler made some wholesale changes at the break, switching goal attack Casey Jess and goal defence Elley Heard, while bringing on Georgia Hiscock at centre and switching her other midcourters.
It proved a handy move, as the Demons rallied to rein in the Eagles’ lead and tie the game at 19-all by half-time.
The Eagles changed things up in the third quarter by switching the positions of goal attack Megan Werner and goal shooter Briodi McKenzie, while the Demons stuck with their second-quarter combination.
Horsham worked hard to create more scoring opportunities than their opponents, and by three-quarter-time they had opened up a four-goal lead.
The Eagles brought Molly Stewart into goals for the final quarter and moved McKenzie into the midcourt.
While Werner was on song with five goals from five, Heard was just as impressive at the other end, and combined well with Emma Buwalda to shoot 13 goals – the highest-scoring quarter for the match.
The Demons continued to edge away in this quarter, and ran out winners by eight points.
Horsham coach Pauline Butler said up until half-time the game was quite scrappy at times.
“But after that we found our game – we started to focus on how we play netball, and things started to fall into place for us,” she said.
Butler said she was pleased her team adapted well to the changes.
“We pulled the plug pretty early. We knew if it wasn’t working that way that we would have to change something up pretty quickly,” she said.
“With Warrack you can’t let them get ahead because it’s too hard to catch up. They will push and fight until the very end whistle and you can never let up.
“We’ve got a lot of depth in our side, which is really nice.
“Tamika Mentha came off with a blood nose late in the second quarter, and we had to think pretty quickly. We put Georgia Hiscock into centre and that combination seemed to work.”
Jess and Buwalda were named the Demons’ best, while the tireless defensive work from Jess Kelly and Penny Fisher earned them best player honours for the Eagles.
They will now have a week off, while the Eagles will meet the winner of Sunday’s semi-final between Minyip-Murtoa and Horsham Saints.