Sport

Have to just keep the faith

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September 11, 2017

For one of the only times this season, the mighty Kyabram was made to look like mortals.

The all-conquering Bombers seemed a side that could be beaten as Shepparton United blitzed the opening quarter-and-a-half of Saturday’s second semi-final.

The Demons streaked six goals ahead at quarter-time, extending their lead at Rochester Recreation Reserve to a huge 10 goals before the reigning premier accelerated up a gear.

And it was a comeback to be watched upon with awe.

Trailing 11-21, there was a genuine inkling Kyabram could fall flat in the semi-final and lose its unbeaten run so close to the finish line.

But midway through the second term everything changed and unlike at the same point in the pair’s prior encounter, a faulty pole was not at fault.

The Bombers began piling on goals, bringing them back into the contest, but just close enough is never near enough for the undefeated side.

‘‘You don’t want to be falsely positive, that breeds mediocrity,’’ Kyabram coach Belinda Lees said.

‘‘I’ve got so much faith in these girls and I trust them and I know the character they’ve got and I can ask for more and they’ll do it.’’

Rising to the coach’s appeal, the Bombers scored the final eight goals of the second quarter to be within two goals at the main break.

Once Kyabram began its run, more pain ensued for the Demons.

It took until nearly halfway through the third term, along with some key positional changes, until the Demons scored again.

By that point the Bombers had scored a whopping 18 consecutive goals in a feat rarely seen in the Goulburn Valley League, let alone in a clash between first and third.

Kyabram was breaking centre passes via the influence of Jemma Osborne and Steph Vick and any ball that entered United’s attack was quickly turned around.

The Bombers were replicating the pressure Shepparton United had heaped on at the match’s start when the underdogs showed remarkable determination to not let Kyabram play its own way.

Like the Bombers later on in the match, United was winning the play at the centre pass.

Causing held ball calls and inaccurate passing, the Demons had Kyabram covered in the centre third.

Lees said she was impressed with how well the opposition had figured them out in certain areas.

‘‘They definitely had done their homework, too, and that showed through and we needed to adjust to that in our break,’’ she said.

‘‘Yes, it surprised us in the first quarter, but then how amazing for me to be able to tell them (Kyabram players) what they need to do and then go out there and change their natural play and get on top and dominate.’’

Lees stuck with her usual seven, despite trailing for the entire fist half.

Not just important for winning this game, Lees said showing faith for her side was critical for the team’s performance on the big stage in two weeks’ time.

‘‘I need to show belief in the girls and I think changes can work, but I don’t change for change’s sake and we’ve got a grand final to come and I don’t want to shatter the confidence of one of these girls when I know what they’ve got and what they can give me,’’ she said.

‘‘Jemma was fantastic in the second half and dominated the court, so if I didn’t give her the opportunity to come back out of the second quarter then what does that say?’’

Conversely, while the Demons showed it was possible to build a winning margin, the main takeaway message was that it was not enough if it did not last for the entire match.

‘‘You’ve just got to play 60 minutes of netball and we probably played 54 minutes of great netball and we had an absolutely lull patch and didn’t maintain the intensity and you only have to drop off that much and they make you pay,’’ United coach Di Hanslow said.

In a 19-goal turnaround, the Demons went down by nine goals and will have to make their way into the grand final the hard way through Sunday’s preliminary final against Shepparton.

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