A GOAL in the final seconds lifted Deakin University to a thrilling victory over Russells Creek in a dramatic start to the A grade netball season.
After leading by four goals at three-quarter-time, scores were level with about 60 seconds remaining.
Sharks coach Kim Jamieson said her side had the ball in attack before Creek produced a turnover and rushed the ball down the other end where they put up three unsuccessful shots.
Lisa Anders came up with the rebound and the Sharks eventually got the ball into goal attack Kristy Mifsud’s hands for the game-winning shot.
As the ball reached the middle of the court for the centre pass to resume play, the siren sounded with the Sharks ahead 28-27.
“It was great, it was fantastic,” an ecstatic Jamieson said. “Very exciting.”
Jamieson said Creek’s height across the court had worried the shorter Sharks, forcing her players to rely on a short passing game.
In a defence-dominated game, she was delighted with the pressure the Sharks put on their opponents and created turnovers.
While the Sharks celebrated a physical win, Panmure underlined its standing as a premiership contender with a no-fuss victory over Timboon Demons.
In conditions better suited to swimming in the nearby Mount Emu Creek waterhole than netball, the Bulldogs, minus two established players, pleased new coach Megan McKenzie with their 53-37 win over the Demons.
Panmure extended its lead at every interval, turning a two-goal lead at quarter-time into a 10-goal buffer at the main break and 14 at three-quarter-time.
While Margie Kenna (knee) and Jorgia Brown (ill) were unavailable, McKenzie was delighted with the return of key defender Sally O’Keefe, who had a baby last year.
O’Keefe was the dominant player of the match at goal defence. She picked off numerous forward passes and with an intense work rate, repeatedly pushed high up the court to add drive. While up the court, she added pressure to the Demons’ midcourters, stifling the supply forward.
McKenzie said the Bulldogs were keen to open with a win and after addressing some stop-start build-ups in the first quarter, was pleased with the way her side played.
“It was a matter of settling in and finding our feet. It took the first quarter to do that.”
She was able to rotate players through the mid-court and finished with goal attack Rhiannon Davis on the bench with an Achilles complaint. But the changes failed to slow the Bulldogs’ supply to shooter Charlotte McCutcheon, who maximised her height advantage.
Timboon Demons coach Hayley Plozza was upbeat despite the loss. She described the line-up as a new team, with herself and defender Cloe Marr returning after absences to have babies last year while midcourter Melissa McKenzie played her first game in seven years, having had a break for family reasons.
Plozza said the loss of wing attack Emma Wilkie early in the second quarter because of a heat-related illness had hurt her side’s balance.
In other games, Allansford gave new coach Mel Harrop a first-up win over perennial finalist Merrivale 28-26 while Kolora-Noorat put a smile on new coach Glenice Justin’s debut with a 52-17 victory over South Rovers.
Defending premier Old Collegians had a 75-23 win over Nirranda, while last year’s finalist Dennington had the biggest win of the day, thumping East Warrnambool by 58 goals.