THEY say good things come to those who wait and City Colts certainly proved that adage in Saturday’s Bathurst Netball Association A grade grand final.
For the first time in two years, Colts managed to post a win against Bulldogs Verdelho. The 30-28 result at the John Matthews Sporting Complex handed them premiership glory.
Bulldogs Verdelho, who had beaten Colts 36-24 in the major semi-final a fortnight earlier, started as the favourites in the decider.
Their line-up included the starters from last season’s premiership outfit and such was the consistent form of Bulldogs, they had only lost three times in two years.
But Colts defied the form guide as they led at every change and held on to beat their determined rivals.
It was a contest befitting of a grand final.
“It was tight the whole first half, there were only one or two goals in it,” City Colts goal attack Sarah Shackleton said.
“We pulled out by about five in the third quarter, but then they fought back and got in front. We just managed to hold them down.
“This is the closest we have come to them all year, it’s the first time we’ve beaten them. They have beaten us by 10 plus in all our other games, so we just pulled this out of the bag.”
The first quarter set the tone for the match as the sides traded goals and turnovers.
Colts led 8-7 at the first break and in the second quarter the arm-wrestle continued.
Jess Matthews and Shackleton scored back-to-back goals for Colts while Danita Lane and Nikki Collins managed likewise for Bulldogs.
The gap was never more than two goals and that is how it stood at half-time with Colts ahead 17-15.
When Colts goal defence Fiona Hanks showed her athleticism and desperation in keeping the ball in play with a leap and flick back in the opening seconds of the third quarter, it led to a run of goals.
Four minutes later Colts had opened up a 21-16 lead and threatened to take the grand final away from Bulldogs.
But the defending champions showed why they had been so successful over the last two years as they rallied.
With Kate Burns and Grace Broadfield renewing their efforts in defence, Colts’ shooters were kept scoreless for a tick over eight minutes.
Bulldogs levelled at 21-all then nosed ahead by a goal before Colts sunk two late shots for a 23-22 lead.
From that point onward Colts stayed in front.
Midway through the final quarter Colts led 27-23, but again Bulldogs rallied as they tried to stay in the contest.
But Amy Keech, who had replaced Shackleton as goal attack, potted some late shots to help her side over the line.
“The difference was today that we had our full side. We went into the game feeling no pressure, they had been beating us by more than 10 goals, so we just wanted to give it our best shot,” Shackleton said. “I think a lot of us aren’t playing again next year, so it was a nice way to finish the season.”