Koroit defeats Camperdown for Hampden open grade premiership

TOP TEAM: Koroit completed its standout season with a three-goal win in the open grade netball. Pictures: Morgan Hancock
TOP TEAM: Koroit completed its standout season with a three-goal win in the open grade netball. Pictures: Morgan Hancock

THERE’S something about Koroit and grand finals.

The Saints reminded the world why they were the top team of season 2017 with a hard-earned win over Camperdown in Saturday’s Hampden league open grade decider to make it nine premierships in 17 seasons.

Veteran midcourter Jacqui Bowman epitomised the Saints’ finals tenacity, earning the Peta Richardson best-on-court medal for her efforts at wing attack.

The Magpies’ rotated a host of players through wing defence to take on the proven performer, with Olivia Henzen, Caitlin Hall, Ash Spokes and veteran Emily Stephens – who made her return partway through the final term – all having a crack.

But 11-time premiership player Bowman held firm, and her feed into goalers Nell Mitchell and Carly Pulling was a big factor in the win.

“She’s just so experienced in finals and she was just there for every pass,” Saints coach Kasey Owen said.

“She orchestrates the play and just having her there on the court – regardless of her skill – just having her there is really good for all the girls.”

In a fast-paced, physical contest, Koroit built a four-goal buffer late in the first term, after a goal-for-goal start to the clash.

The Saints held a five-goal advantage for much of the contest, though Camperdown refused to back down and drew level in the second term. But it was the Saints who led by two goals at the main break, and five at the final change.

The Magpies made a late charge as they did a week ago, but it came too late as Jaymie Finch sunk a goal on the buzzer to leave the final margin at three.

“We know no matter what the margin is, they always fight to the end,” Owen said.

“We really had to just keep fighting to the end.

“When that buzzer went, we were pretty relieved, I think – and happy.

“I think it’s a good reward after having such a consistent, successful season. It’s great that we could follow through and finish with the ultimate goal.”

Mitchell was a pillar of strength all game, despite the Magpies faithful’s best efforts to put her off with her shooting, and dropped in 38 goals.

Pulling looked at home in her unpreferred position at goal attack, with Saints teammate Bridget Roache ruled out of the deicder, nimbly weaving around Camperdown defenders Emma Wright and Brooke Richardson and feeding the ball to Mitchell well.