BULLDOGS Verdelho have ended Collegians Mystified's reign in the Bathurst Netball Association A grade competition by taking out Saturday's grand final 50-44.
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Verdelho prevented Collegians from taking out a fourth straight title with the victory and in the process picked up their first top grade title since 2017.
It was an extra satisfying conclusion to the season for Bulldogs after the minor premiers missed out on a chance to win the 2021 title - where they also finished top of the table - after the finals series was cancelled due to COVID-19.
Bulldogs made the most of their opportunity this time around as they jumped out to a small lead at quarter-time and then maintained a three to four goal advantage throughout most of the match.
They gained even more ground during a strong final quarter, ending their season on a high note.
Alisha Glasgow's dominance saw the Bulldogs goal shooter named best on fairest of the grand final.
Bulldogs coach Kate Burns couldn't be prouder of the way her team put it all together.
"It was a lot of fun and a really close game until probably the start of the fourth quarter. We got a little further ahead there, probably around eight ahead, before they got a couple back late, but it was really tight the whole way through," she said.
"That really took the pressure off towards the end when we knew that we were far enough ahead to know that we were safe. We were up front the start but never by heaps.
"We tend to be a bit slow to start so it was nice to get in front early and build on that as the match progressed."
Bulldogs made a number of successful change ups to their game plan which helped to limit the chances of a Collegians comeback.
"I thought our shooters worked really well together. As the match went on our passing became a lot quicker and sharper and that opened up a lot of attacking opportunities for us," Burns said.
"We made a couple of positional changes in the second half which worked really well for us too. We moved Emily Matthews into an attacking position which helped with the speed of the ball, while still being able to play great defensive netball up that end of the court.
Burns is one of just a few Bulldogs team member who were a part of the club's previous A grade success.
"It's been a few years now since we've played a grand final. We were top of the ladder last year when they cancelled the season. Yes, we were first, but it's not the same when you don't get to play a grand final," she said.
"Alisha, myself and Cassie Pearce would have been the three players who were there for that last A grade win we had."
Collegians had to take the long path towards the grand final this time around, coming all the way from the minor semi-final to give themselves a shot a four premierships in a row.
The team were never out of the hunt until deep into the last term, and coach Melissa Noonan said the grand final turned out to be the higher quality clash it was expected to be.
"It was a brilliant game, no question about that. Bulldogs got away at the end of it. I wouldn't say we played bad at any point of the game, they just got away in the last quarter," she said.
"I'm really happy with the girls' performance. It could have been anyone's. Full credit goes to Bulldogs for coming away with the win.
"People were telling me 'You can't win them all' so it's nice to share it.
"There was no real feeling of loss from the team. To come from third to get ourselves in a fourth straight grand final is fantastic."
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