Hamilton Kangaroos celebrated their first Hampden league win over Portland after surviving a last-quarter scare yesterday.
The Kangaroos started the final term with a seven-goal buffer but it was reduced to two with about five minutes remaining as the large crowd rallied behind the home side at Hanlon Park.
But as quick as the Tigers got within striking distance, the Kangaroos responded with five consecutive goals to prevail 39-35.
Kangaroos coach Sara Byrne was pleased her side responded to Portland’s challenge.
“Happy with the win, happy they fought it out,” Byrne said.
“We played a pretty good two-and-a-half quarters and fell away for a quarter-and-a-half, but that’s OK.
“We were really pleased with the way they responded. They could have dropped their heads.”
The win was built on intense pressure that saw Portland uncharacteristically throw the ball away going into its goal circle.
“We worked really hard on defence at training this week and I think our defensive line was brilliant,” Byrne said.
Goal defence Amanda Huf was at her brilliant best in creating turnovers, while goal keeper Rhianne Lewis earned the Ted Kenna VC medal for best-on-court after a good duel with young Portland shooter Kayla Pickert.
Byrne said the Kangaroos had enjoyed playing in front of a big crowd.
“We haven’t beaten Portland in a little bit and to win a close game was good.”
Byrne said she had made moves at three-quarter-time as the heat of the day started to its take its toll on midcourters Aly Smead and Ally Feely.
She brought Leesa Iredell into wing defence for Feely and Rebecca Van Kalken to centre.
She said Van Kalken would become a permanent member of the A grade squad with Iredell playing her last game for the season because she is pregnant.
“It’s a great start to the season, it’s two more wins than last year. But we will just take each week as it comes.”
Portland coach Kerri Jennings said turnovers had cost her side.
“It was really disappointing,” she said.
“I thought we could do it, they were more than capable but then we would do a bad pass. “
She said the Tigers needed more court work at training in a bid to find a winning combination.