Panthers into BNA A grade grand final with win over Bulldogs | Photos

Panthers will line up against Collegians Mystified into the Bathurst Netball Association A grade grand final, after overcoming Bulldogs Verdelho 38-23 in the preliminary final on Saturday. 

Last week it was pouring rain, meaning the semi-finals were moved indoors, but on Saturday it was another extreme, with windy conditions making shooting difficult. 

But it was Panthers who denied Bulldogs a chance to defend its title with a clinical four quarter effort to claim the 15-point victory. 

Panthers coach Di Coombes was pleased with intensity from her side and the pressure they heaped onto their Bulldogs opponents.

“Our defence played really well, with Astrid [Linke] and Lily [McIntosh] both standing up,” she said.

“I thought Claire [Woolmington] also had a good game, in the centre, getting a lot of touches and a lot of turnovers.

“We kept the intensity and pressure on the entire game, which is what I thought was the difference in the end.”

She said both teams were affected by the windy conditions.

“Bulldogs were in the boat as us,” she said.

“We just kept going in the last quarter. We didn’t want to drop off. We wanted to keep the intensity going the entire game and we basically did that today.” 

The opening stanza proved frustrating as both teams did their best to adapt to the windy conditions.

But it was Panthers who proved the better side, leading 12-6 at the end of the first quarter. 

Panthers, who finished second in this year’s regular season, stretched their lead by more in the second, to take a strong 22-10 lead into half-time.

However, three straight goals from the defending premiers in the third term had Bulldogs thinking that they could potentially catch their opponents.

But Panthers responded with the next three points and Bulldogs’ brief resistance was quashed, however the trailers outscored their opponents 7-6 in the third term but trailed 28-17. 

Bulldogs needed a miracle in the final term, if they wanted any chance of making the grand final but Panthers proved too good, controlling the closing periods of the game to qualify for next Saturday’s decider. 

It was sweet revenge for Panthers, who were defeated in last year’s decider by Bulldogs.

But now they face a red hot Collegians side who lost only one game throughout the regular season and who deposed of them 56-48 in the semi-final on September 8. 

“We’ve got a great team and it’s up to them if they want to get the win,” Coombes said.

“We’ll give it everything we’ve got and it should be a good game.”

Saturday’s decider between Panthers and Collegians will be played at 3pm. 

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