Sport

Saints’ hard-earned first

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September 25, 2017

Is John is good: Annabel Johnson was integral in her side's late charge but it wasn't enough for the Murray Bombers.

Markers up: Benalla's Chloe Hill was instrumental in nullifying the impact of Murray Bombers' shooter Olivia Slattery.

B-grade premiers, Benalla: (Back row, from left) Dylan Nexhip (coach), Mikaylah Lessing, Grace Warnock, Chloe Hill, Hayley Martiniello, Bec Robinson, Jarrad Walker (assistant coach).(Front) Emily Martyn, Georgia Spencer, Chantelle Lindsay, Kelsey Pallpratt and Abbey Nexhip.

Benalla has claimed its first B-grade premiership after defeating Echuca by four goals.

The Saints proved too strong, leading from start to finish to eventually win 38 to the Murray Bombers 34.

It was a captain’s performance from Chantell Lindsay earning herself the game’s Most Valuable Player award after dominating inside the Saints’ offensive third.

In a battle between first and fourth, it was Dylan Nexhip’s minor premiers who started with the ball and scored the game’s first two goals to come out comfortable winners, pleasing an ecstatic Nexhip.

“The girls were phenomenal, we knew it was going to be a tough game, we worked tirelessly and I thought they really delivered on the big stage,” Nexhip said.

“We passed well, we focused on the things that we worked on during the week and I am just delighted for them.

“They are pretty much all homegrown players, so it is great for the town.”

It was all Saints early in the second term jumping to a five-goal margin, but as the Murray Bombers attempted to claw their way back, Lindsay slotted a buzzer-beating shot.

Centres Emily Martyn and Zara Pearson went head-to-head for the first three quarters and in a battle between the midcourters it was the former who helped her side create a slender four-goal buffer at the main break.

Sky high in confidence, Chloe Hill and Grace Warnock defended well before the latter moved to centre in the final term.

Goal shooter Georgina Spencer was lively in the final quarter, but it was the full-court zone which would allow the Saints to score on the counter, asserting themselves on the contest.

The eventual winners jumped out to an eight-goal lead in the final term, but the Murray Bombers never gave in.

With a premiership up for grabs, the underdogs scored four unanswered goals to halve the deficit, but they were beaten by the siren and a better side on the day with Nexhip salivating over his side’s resilience.

‘‘They came hard late, but we were able to hold on and it is just a testament to these girls, they are fantastic,’’ Nexhip said.

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