15 Sep EAST GEELONG v WERRIBEE CENTRALS – NETBALL GRAND FINAL
A repeat of the 2022 grand final fills all supporters with high expectations. A fast finishing Centrals were only one goal away from a stunning victory last year and that result was repeated when these teams met again in the qualifying final two weeks ago. East were able to jump their opposition in both games, but were forced into desperate defence in frantic last quarters. The Werribee based team will be focused on a fast start and to achieve this their shooters must be on target. Ellie Tubbs sat out the second half of last weeks confidence boosting preliminary final victory over Winchelsea, leaving the scoring to Jenni Rothery and Jacinta Savory. That pair may be asked to start proceedings today and try to win some ball against the inform Eagles defensive duo, Steph Boyce and Sarah Perrott. Boyce was absent when the teams met in August and the Centrals bounced away that day and hung onto an important five goal win. It was East who took the early lead in the recent clash and their defensive pair were able to keep the Centrals at bay. The Centrals centre court is laden with stars, as veterans Melissa Prismall and Nicole Weatherley, supported by the youthful Natasha Dimkovski, are well rounded defensively and attack with assurity. Prismall in particular is the heartbeat of the group and provides the fire when her team is against the wall, either from the centre or the attacking wing.
The starting three for the opposition provide contrasting styles. Zoey Perovic is quick, agile and can be very effective on either wing if needed. “Dolly” Cottrill is strong and aggressive and that was clearly on display in her best on court performance in the second semi final. The silky Claudia Cook will start the game at defensive wing and her sure, clean ball handling is the perfect avenue into attack.
I sense the game will be decided under the Eagles scoring ring. Shannon Pietsch has been the star performer of her teams attack for a long time and her ability to deal with the aggression of Brigitte Ardossi and if fit, Amanda O’Malley will be crucial. Beside Pietsch will be the underrated Jenelle Baker, who helped turn the fortunes of her team around in the second semi final. She is strong, confident and shoots with high accuracy. Her battle with the consistent Caitlin Hendricksen will also go a long way to deciding this grand final. The loser of todays game will be stiff. Every pass, turnover, block and miss will be vital. Someone will be the hero. The crowd will be privileged.