Sport

On top of tree with three

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September 25, 2017

B-reserve premier, Shepparton: (Back, from left) Stacey Thompson (coach), Elisha Fiddes, Casey Thompson, Millie Casey, Johanna Kay, Jaidyn Mitchell, Laura Scott, Maz Conti (team manager). (Front) Rhianna Thompson, Kara Squire, Hannah O'Meara, Aleesha McQuilton and Maxine Watson.

At full stretch: Shepparton Swans Maddie McKinnon did her best to pull the game in her side's favour.

Staying tough: Shepparton's Jaidyn Mitchell held down the fort in defence.

Shepparton’s reign in B-reserve continues after the Bears celebrated their third consecutive Goulburn Valley League premiership yesterday.

Stacey Thompson’s side overcame a persistent Shepparton Swans, as a stirling start paved the way for a 10-goal victory.

The Swans had been one of Shepparton’s biggest competitors during the season, but could only gain the momentum in patches.

Pressing hard from the opening whistle, Bears midcourters Rhianna Thompson and Kara Squire made sure the ball reached the circle quickly.

Laura Scott were there to finish off the delivery, with Scott becoming more influential as the game continued to be named Most Valuable Player.

Doubling the Swans’ score to lead by seven goals at the first break, the buffer could have been greater as some early inaccuracy caused shots to go astray.

But both shooters made supreme efforts to gather the rebound and put the side back on track.

Captain Johanna Kay set the pace for her side with an exemplary performance in goal keeper.

Combining with Casey Thompson and Jaidyn Mitchell through the day, the trio made finding space in the circle strenuous for the Swans.

But Swans playing coach Naomi Amos never stopped as her attacking drive helped keep her side in the game.

A string of five goals to end the second term had the Swans back within five goals at half-time and they tried to continue with the momentum when play continued.

But despite scoring the first goal of the quarter, Shepparton eased its way back into a more comfortable lead.

Scott continued to shoot the majority of her side’s goals with eight of 11 in the third term as the cohesive attack shone.

At times Shepparton had so much authority that it could string together quick goals to leave the Swans behind.

Fresh legs in the final quarter as Hannah O’Meara came onto centre helped the Bears run out the game with Thompson pleased with how her side performed when the pressure increased.

Having coached all three premierships, Thompson said an understated preparation was vital.

‘‘It’s a bit surreal now, at the end of the day we had our game plan and that’s all we focused on,’’ she said.

‘‘They (players) were pretty calm, we were focused on what we had to do as opposed to the actual occasion, so I think that helped and we knew they (Swans) wouldn’t go away, so we just had to focus for the four quarters and we were lucky we got a good start this time and jumped them.’’

Thompson acknowledged the importance of experienced finals performers helping out newer members of the group.

‘‘Having the same core group has helped and we’ve added different people each time, so the people that have done it before are obviously really calm and know what it’s all about,’’ she said.

‘‘Just little things like we had to warm up in the stadium (Mercy Stadium) not here (at Deakin), all the different changes for the day, having people who have done it before has helped.’’

She said the win was for the whole club, following the A-grade team’s heartbreaking defeat in the preliminary final.

‘‘We wished A-grade were with us and they were so close, but having at least one team in is a good result because the coaches are so invested in every grade, so I guess it’s for all of us as much as just our girls,’’ Thompson said.

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