LIGHTNING does strike twice.
Warrnambool upset defending premier Koroit for the second time this season with a one-goal triumph at Reid Oval on Saturday.
The 45-44 win had no impact on the ladder — the Saints remain second, one game ahead of the Blues in third — but it could have lasting psychological implications, with the sides expected to meet in the qualifying final in three weeks.
Blues coach Lorraine English was delighted with the result but kept it in perspective, saying the Saints were without key defender Holly Greene, who had basketball commitments with the Mermaids.
Warrnambool held a three-goal lead at quarter-time but the margin was cut to one at the main break.
“We started OK but we were still letting them dictate our play,” English said.
But the Blues swung the match with a decisive third term, opening a six-goal lead at the last break.
“They just decided they could step it up and not let them dictate and just went for it,” English said of her players.
The final term was tense as the momentum swung and Koroit hit the front.
But the Blues responded and grabbed back the lead thanks to some clutch shooting from Danielle McLeod.
“They were still missing a few players, we are aware of that. But we can still play with them. We really enjoyed the game,” English said.
English predicted the Blues would only get stronger in the run to the finals, revealing they hadn’t had a full list at training for nine weeks.
“We are really looking forward to getting a full squad at training and practising what we have been working on,” she said.
The Blues face fifth-placed Terang Mortlake on Saturday, while the Saints host fourth-placed North Warrnambool Eagles.
Koroit coach Jacqui Bowman said she was disappointed in the loss, but would use the game to highlight the areas her side needed to work on in the lead-up to finals.
“I think the most disappointing thing for us yesterday was the lack of intensity and we had a lot of unforced errors,” Bowman said. “But I have to give Warrnambool their dues. They put a lot of pressure on us.”
She said the Saints were short across all grades of netball on Saturday, but that wasn’t an excuse for the way they played.
“We were lucky to get seven players on the court. We went in just hoping for the win. We tried a few different things and we had a couple of good moments, but there were some bad patches as well,” she said.
“We just need to work on building some good form in the lead-up to finals,” she said.
Bowman also dismissed suggestions that umpiring may have had an impact on the final result.
“There is absolutely no way we can blame the umpires,” she said.