NATIMUK United has claimed back-to-back Horsham District league A Grade premierships.
The Ewes beat Laharum in the grand final 38-33.
It marks the club’s third A Grade flag in four seasons.
Laharum got the jump on Natimuk United early, converting off the first centre pass and then creating a turnover to go up 2-0.
But Natimuk created turnovers of their own and the game was soon back on level pegging.
By halfway through the first quarter, Natimuk United seemed to be in control, slowing the play when needed and capitalising on turnovers.
Jo Taylor and Casey Vanstan are turning over plenty of ball in defence. But Laharum’s defence were doing the same at the other end, and by the first break the Mountain Maids were down by one.
Alysha Liston has replaced Amy Pilgrim at goal attack for Natimuk United in the second quarter, and Danielle Fleay came on at centre to replace Emily Hateley.
The crowd really started to get into the match in the second quarter, which the Ewes dominated for the first few minutes.
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But again Laharum reeled them in, and the scores were locked at 12 all.
The Ewes then jumped ahead by three, but the Mountain Maids were pressing up on every pass Natimuk United tried to get into their goal third. They managed to turn over multiple balls to get themselves back in the game.
The half-time scoreboard showed a slight lead to Laharum, 19-18.
The Mountain Maids were back on court very early for the second half, at least a minute before the whistle blew to start the quarter. They replaced centre Courtney Guy with Aily McAuliffe, while the Ewes moved Danielle Fleay to wing defence and Emily Hateley back to centre.
The first half of the quarter was a very even yet intense affair, with plenty of turnovers for both sides and lots of players hitting the deck.
As the quarter went on the Ewes started to gain some ascendancy, and took a game-high five-goal lead.
They went into the final quarter up 29-25.
Aily McAuliffe went to wing attack for the Mountain Maids and Courtney Guy moved back to centre, while the Ewes brought Michelle Trigg back to the court.
The momentum stayed with Natimuk United and they got out to a seven-goal lead, but Laharum was not giving in.
Halfway through the quarter they had got the margin back to four.
However cool heads from the more experienced Natimuk United side ultimately proved the difference in the final minutes as they went on to win by five.
Ewes defender Casey Vanstan was named best on court.
Premierships are so hard to get, so we don’t take these for granted one little bit.Ewes coach Cheryl Sudholz
Natimuk United coach Cheryl Sudholz said the experience within her side allowed them to stay cool under pressure.
“That fourth quarter is when we are really a team. That calmness and steadiness comes over us,” she said.
“The Laharum crowd was building and building, but it helped us because we could settle.”
Sudholz said Casey Vanstan was a standout on the day.
“She has been all year,” she said.
“No one knew at the time, but Casey injured her back before pre-season. She kept it very well hidden. But she was a superstar at training.
“Like all of us, we have to do the right things to keep our bodies in tune, and she’s just had a phenomenal season.
“Each week you can count on both Jo and Casey coming up with the goods and getting that crucial intercept when needed.
“And even Michelle, she got two or three today. She puts her body on the line.”
Sudholz said it was hard to put into words what back-to-back premierships meant for the club and the town of Natimuk.
“We’ve got such great support. We’re pretty much campers on grand final day and take one end of the court,” she said.
“Everyone from the footballers to the netballers and juniors are there, and they cheered so loudly and proudly all throughout the finals. It’s just awesome.
“Back to back doesn’t seem real at the moment. For some of us, we’ve been around the club for a very long time. Premierships are so hard to get, so we don’t take these for granted one little bit. You have to earn them.
“To get here on the day is such a great club effort.”
Natimuk United 9, 18, 29, 38 (38)
Laharum 8, 19, 25, 33 (33)
Natimuk United: S Couch 29, A Liston 7, A Pilgrim 2.
Laharum: M Iredell 19, C Story 14.