Underdog to make State League netball grand final hot in the City

GOAL shooter Katie Burt thought her chances of playing in tonight’s Western Regional State League (WRSL) grand final were gone.

Her Warrnambool City side trailed Hampden Green for much of its semi-final last Thursday and was still 10 goals  down with a quarter to go.

But 15 minutes of netball for the ages, plus a blazing period in extra time, lifted City to one of the most remarkable wins in WRSL history. City produced a 15-5 last term to square the match 43-43. It carried that momentum into extra time, shooting clear to prevail 58-51.

Burt, who with goal attack Leah Kermeen were among the heroes in the comeback, was stunned with the triumph.

“To be honest I thought we were (gone). There were periods of time during the match I thought ‘we’re down, we’re down, we’re down’,” she said.

“And all of a sudden it became crunch time. Did I believe the girls could do it? Definitely. The amount of turnovers the girls had during the game, it was a matter of us starting to convert them.”

The heroics booked City a berth in the grand final against minor premier Hampden White, which surged late to beat Hamilton Night 46-37 in the other semi-final.

Burt was cautiously confident a second upset was possible but was aware of the size of the challenge. 

“I suppose you can say anything can happen,” she said.

“You have to realise we’ve got some beautiful juniors in our side and some switched on experienced players: Tracey Baker, Leah Kermeen and Liz Byrne.

“They’re really great players so you think it’s possible. But you’ve got to look at the last times we played them, we’ve had big losses.”

City coach Rhiannon Cuomo was likewise upbeat about the grand final, saying her players were still “buzzing” after their come-from-behind win.

“We’ve got a Facebook page we have for the team and there’s been comments all week. They’re just really excited,” she said.

Cuomo said she was wary of the match-changing talent of White gun Maddie Smedts and goaler Jaymie Finch.

She said a second slow start in two weeks could spell the end of City’s title hopes, despite its  ability to rally late.

“Our first quarter we just need to be really steady and look after the ball and protect our centres,” she said.

White coach Stacey O’Sullivan said she was comfortable with favouritism after finishing the qualifying rounds on top.

“At the end of the day I believe we’re a better side, as long as we play well,” she said. 

“We’re just very versatile. We’ve got different moves up our sleeve we can make.”

The game is at the Arc from 8.30pm, after the 17 and under decider between Warrnambool City and Camperdown Night at 7pm.

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