Magpies feather their nest

September 25, 2017

Alicia White of Tongala and Charlotte Long of Moama duing the MFNL A grade netball grand final between Moama and Tongala. Photo by Luke Hemer.

White knight: Despite the loss Tongala playing coach Alicia White worked tirelessly trying to nullify Moama's Emilly Atkinson.

Georgina Crowe and Ange Slattery of Moama celebrate after winning the MFNL A grade netball grand final between Moama and Tongala. Photo by Luke Hemer.

Moama has tasted ultimate success in its first A-grade grand final after defeating Tongala on Saturday.

The Murray Netball League’s top two teams clashed at Rumbalara and the Magpies swooped home to eventually win 41-31.

Pace, precision, power and speed are words you could use to describe watching the Magpies play and in the final quarter, it was all those attributes that helped the league leaders claim an elusive premiership.

Magpies playing coach Charlotte Long willed her side home from midcourt while rebounding goalkeeper Angela Slattery was awarded best-on-court.

‘‘I didn’t know what was going to happen, I was nervous, I didn’t tell the girls, but I am just so happy that we got the win,’’ Long said.

‘‘The girls never dropped their heads which was fantastic, they kept working and never dropped their heads.’’

Emilly Atkinson, who came on after half-time, also stole the show with a dominant display inside the arc, scoring all her side’s 10 third term goals — of which six were unanswered.

‘‘She is such a presence on the court and all I told her to be that, be herself,’’ Long said.

‘‘Ange (Slattery) was also massive, she was so good down back and never missed a rebound which was key for us when we wanted to move forward.’’

The Blues led for just more than two minutes after Abby Pettifer scored the game’s first goal, but from then on in it was all Magpies with the highly-fancied outfit taking a three-goal lead into quarter time.

Georgia Groves was lively at goal shooter, but some of the eventual premiers’ work was undone when teammate Emily Taverna allowed the Blues to advance the ball forward on two separate occasions.

Two quickfire goals after the restart dragged the Blues within four goals, but some neat combination play from sisters Abby Pettifer and Sara Kent ensured the former would cooly convert.

Both sides then exchanged blows towards the latter end of the second period, with both sides trying to assert themselves on the contest, but the Magpies edged two goals ahead two at the main break.

As the game wore on the Magpies’ run and slick ball movement began to undo the Blues as their playing coach, Alicia White, who will hand over the coaching reins next season, was forced to try her hand at defending Atkinson.

‘‘I think we showed a lot of courage, we were down, but we didn’t let them get away until that last quarter,’’ White said.

‘‘They are a beautiful team, there is not a lot you can do, they were rebounding, but we probably were not shooting as well as we could.’’

Powerful in the air and accurate in front of goal, Atkinson was a handful for White, dominating the third quarter.

Groves was reintroduced at the start of the fourth for Steph Watson and with fresh legs the Magpies ran away with the contest, sending the crowd into raptures.

However, the Blues were not without chances in the latter stages with Pettifer and Tracey Hughes missing a few opportunities.

Saturday’s feeling had become all too familiar for White with the Blues having lost three of the past four grand finals.

‘‘Oh geez, I don’t know,’’ White said.

‘‘I think it might be our consistency during those finals, but today I wouldn’t say it was that.

‘‘Today we were just beaten by a better side, they were too good.’’

The Blues have come from a long way after merging their A and B-grade squads together, filtering players between the two sides due to a lack of numbers, injuries and an interrupted start to the campaign.

‘‘I am just really proud of these girls for the season we have had, we were pushing s*** uphill,’’ White said.

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