ALLANSFORD and Merrivale added an unexpected dimension to the race to netball finals when they played out a thrilling draw on Saturday.
Cats recruit Steph Jamieson netted with less than a minute left to level scores at 36-apiece, with full-time curtailing the Tigers’ next foray forward.
The result means percentage is unlikely to have a say in which sides fill positions four and five on the ladder come the end of the season.
As it stands, Merrivale is fourth with 34 points. Kolora-Noorat (fifth, 32), Allansford (sixth, 30) and Deakin University (seventh, 28) follow.
The Sharks, who have a game in hand thanks to the split round, hold all the keys. They play the other three sides in the final four rounds.
Allansford coach Mel Harrop and her Merrivale counterpart Tania Ross found positives in the result after getting over the uneasy feeling draws deliver.
Harrop labelled the Cats’ effort as one of their best for the campaign, having suffered four consecutive defeats in the past month.
They were also without Kristen McCaskill and Kim Pratt. Teenager Tayla Ryan earnt a promotion to play centre and Renae Meade went to goal attack.
“I was so proud of the girls. They had a few losses in a row, they could’ve gone along that path,” Harrop said.
“Today’s game they found that quality that makes teams like Old Collegians and Dennington so good. They dug deep, they hung in there.”
The draw was more beneficial to Allansford, given its comparably poor percentage. But Harrop said that was not the reason she emerged happy.
“It’s not about that. It’s about how they pulled themselves out of their funk. They fought really hard today,” she said.
Ross said a draw was “definitely a positive ... we didn’t lose the game so it’s definitely a positive”.
“Two points are better than no points, especially at this stage of the season and how tight it is between fourth and ninth,” she said.
Ross said she believed a draw was “a fair outcome”. The Tigers trailed by three in the last quarter but had the lead before Jamieson found the net.
“In terms of the game it was a fair outcome. I thought they played really well in patches, we played really well in patches,” she said.
Danielle McInerney led all scorers with 24 goals for Merrivale while Jamieson shot 20 to lead the Allansford tally.
The Tigers named centre/wing defence Chantelle Moloney their best along with Ross at goal keeper and Nicole Ferguson at goal defence.
Meade led the way for the Cats in her return to the goals. Centre Ryan and goal keeper Sarah Robertson were also influential.