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04 September 2019
by Colin MacGillivray
Laharum shed a persistent monkey from its back and booked a spot in the Horsham District netball grand final with a confidence-boosting win against Natimuk United at the weekend.
The Demons and Ewes are familiar foes, having squared off in several finals matches – including last season’s grand final – during the past few seasons.
Traditionally it has been Natimuk United holding a narrow advantage at the final whistle, but on Saturday the Demons finally got the better of the two-time reigning premiers with a 37-31 win.
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It was neck and neck early in the game, as Natimuk United jumped out to a two-goal advantage early only to be overtaken by Laharum at quarter time.
It was the second quarter where the Demons flexed their muscle, with goal keeper Rebecca McIntyre stifling star Ewe shooter Shannon Couch.
With Couch limited to just four goals for the quarter the Demons pressed their advantage at the other end of the court.
Maddie Iredell and co-coach Caitlin Story combined for nine goals to give their side a five-goal break by half time.
In the second half the team was able to hold its nerve despite several Natimuk United runs. Every time the Ewes threatened to catch the Demons, Laharum would pull away again.
With co-coach Erin Mellington at wing attack and Zandria Malone in centre moving strongly through the midcourt and wing defence Adele Rohde doing her best to limit the impact of Ewes coach Cheryl Sudholz, the team saw off every challenge.
Story said the performance had done wonders for the Demons’ self belief.
“We’re pretty excited to get that hoodoo we had off our backs and beat Natimuk United in a final,” she said.
“I think we were calmer than we have been for the past few years and I honestly felt like we were a different team on the weekend.
“We were calm, we never let any decisions get in our head and we were always ready for whatever came next.”
The Demons will have a week to recover and will meet the winner of Saturday’s preliminary final between the Ewes and Harrow-Balmoral at Pimpinio.
The Roos punched their ticket to the game with a clinical 44-18 win against Edenhope-Apsley in tough conditions at Cameron Oval on Sunday.
Early rain made the ball and court slick, and both teams started slowly as a result.
But as the sun came out and the ball dried, it was Harrow-Balmoral with a clear advantage over the Saints. With coach Ebonie Salter stifling Edenhope-Apsley goal attack Georgia Lowe, Rebecca Francis providing her usual manic energy at centre and Amy Lewis on fire in the goal ring, the Roos increased their advantage at every break.
Salter said the team would need to raise its game even higher to stand a chance of beating the Ewes on Saturday.
“We started to kick into gear in the second quarter and, once we got settled, we kept building all game, which was really great.
“We’ve had great matches against Natimuk United for the past five or six years.
“They’ll probably feel like they have a point to prove after the weekend.
“A lot of the teams have worked hard to break down our transition, and we need to stick with what we’ve been doing, keep our heads and not focus too much on any one of their players.
“They’ve got some great midcourters and defenders, so we can’t focus too much on that.
We need to try to win every position on the court.”
The entire September 4, 2019 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!