Sport

Was almost bye bye Birdy

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September 11, 2017

Leah Pate stepped up the challenge, having already been earmarked early as the person capable of fulfilling the task.

It was a case of déjà vu for Tocumwal.

The Bloods claimed the Picola District Netball League north-west premiership for the third consecutive year, with the three-peat all coming against the Deni Rovers.

Stepping into the role as playing coach this year, Kate Bird said players were thankful to take the seven-goal win after an eventful Saturday.

‘‘It was relief I think that we’d done it (after the final whistle), we’d had a few obstacles to get over in the morning’’ Bird said.

Bird injured her back in an innocuous movement on the team bus and was nearly unable to take the court.

But 10 minutes before game time, she was fit and firing and ready to step onto the court.

Stopping four-time PDNL best-and-fairest winner Lucy Howard’s influence in the Rovers’ attack was always going to be key to winning.

And Leah Pate stepped up the challenge, having already been earmarked early as the person capable of fulfilling the task.

Pate kept her opposition quiet, with Bird thrilled Howard was unable to score more than three goals a quarter.

The defensive effort across the court was unrivalled, with Millie Ferguson taking best-on-court honours.

‘‘She was fantastic, she was like a brick wall and the ball couldn’t get past her,’’ Bird said.

‘‘She read the ball really well, she had good hands, drove down the court very well, it was the best game of the season from her.’’

The Bloods gradually edged in front of their opposition, moving ahead by two or three goals each term after an even first quarter.

With Tocumwal’s under-15s also claiming the flag, Bird was hopeful the prolonged success could continue.

‘‘They’re (A-grade players) excited and proud, but they’re tired after three years,’’ Bird said.

‘‘But the good thing is this year the juniors are coming through so we’ll try and maintain that (success) and the juniors are there to keep it going and the club is actually getting stronger.’’

It was another tough day for the Deni Rovers, having been defeated in three consecutive deciders as the club continues the search for its first A-grade flag.

●In a stunning turnaround from last year, Dookie United will meet Waaia in the south-east grand final.

United was comprehensive victors against Katunga, taking the game by 18 goals at its home courts.

In more heartbreak for the Swans, it is the second consecutive season they have bowed out in the penultimate match of the year.

Last year Aimee Sidebottom’s troops were knocked out against Shepparton East and this season they were unable to progress again, despite another second place finish.

Dookie gains the opportunity for a premiership with Jodie Fleming’s side better suited to clashing with the Bombers.

United won just two games last year, before showing itself as a side able to match it with the best this season.

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