DENNINGTON needed only a handful of seconds to start believing its A grade netball flag hopes would remain alive.
The Dogs, reeling from a defeat to Old Collegians a week ago, were on the front foot from the start in their first semi-final against Merrivale yesterday.
They intercepted the Tigers’ first centre pass, converted and then scored again after they had control in the centre.
Their lead was just two goals as the last-chance match was in its early stages.
But coach Josie Bolden sensed her side would live to fight another day.
“Breaking that first centre pass and getting that goal, and then we got two goals up — I know there was still a long way to go but that lifted us straight away,” she said.
“Last week we lost that first centre pass. It was just the little things that count. They can help you win a game.
“The confidence was up.”
Dennington claimed the 54-40 win at Mack Oval, setting up a preliminary final showdown with Old Collegians this Saturday.
Shooter Danielle McLeod netted 31 goals, while sidekick Marlie Boyd got 23 and earned best-on-court honours.
Wing defence Kelsey Perry and goal keeper Lani Barling were also among the best.
Bolden said her players’ defence all the way up the court was match-defining, while McLeod and Boyd “clicked”.
But the Dogs didn’t have everything their own way after rushing to an early lead.
They had to defend repeated comebacks from the Tigers, who surged within five goals at one stage.
“The pleasing part about today’s game was when they started to surge, we regrouped,” Bolden said.
“They had as many turnovers as we did. The thing was we regrouped and we didn’t drop our heads.”
Merrivale co-coach Claire Wines said the slow start was costly for the Tigers.
The absence of gun midcourter Elisha Carter due to a foot injury also hurt.
Haley Kelson led the way, landing 27 goals and earning their best-player plaudits.
Chantelle Moloney, who started at wing defence and finished at goal defence, and centre Jodi Keane were also effective.
“There were times we were in it. We had a bad start and we got back within a couple of goals at one stage and then within five goals,” Wines said.
“But every time we caught up, they’d blow it out again.
“We just didn’t take advantage of our opportunities. We let too many slip by.”
The defeat brings to an end an era of dominance by Merrivale, which has won four of the past six grand finals but had a new-look side this season.
Wines said she believed the Tigers would soon roar again, particularly with Danielle McInerney set to return from Cairns.