Nirranda is celebrating a drought-breaking Warrnambool and District league A grade netball premiership.
The Blues’ 53-40 victory against Dennington at Reid Oval on Saturday was the club’s first top-grade flag in 18 years. The win ended the Dogs’ run of three consecutive flags.
Nirranda coach Steph Townsend broke the game open with five of the first six goals of the final quarter as her side turned a three-goal lead into a match-defining advantage.
After a tense struggle for three quarters, the Blues raced to a 14-goal lead in the final term.
Townsend, who took on the Blues’ coaching role three years ago, was mobbed by her teammates and supporters, shedding tears of joy when the buzzer sounded. The result erased the memories of last year’s defeat to Dennington in the grand final.
“It’s absolutely sensational, it’s been a while since I won one and last year’s loss makes it so much sweeter,” Townsend said.
“It’s fantastic. I‘m over the moon.
“I think it (the drought) is nearly as old as one of our youngest players.
“Well fought, credit to Dennington, geez they made us work hard for it. The biggest thing that got us over the line was just our belief in each other. I’m rapt.”
The 25-year-old goal attack praised her team’s willingness to work hard and do the “one percenters”, intercepts, rebounds.
She said her players had dedicated themselves to the quest for a previously elusive premiership.
“This is everything we’ve been working hard for since November, the blood, sweat and tears have been worth it, this is absolutely sensational.”
She paid credit to her rivals.
"Dennington has been the benchmark not just this season but for the last three years,” she said.
“You have been sensational.”
She said the burst at the start of the last quarter when the Blues scored seven of the first eight goals underlined her side’s determination.
“(It was) that never-say-die attitude and the hunger from last year,” she said.
“It’s raw, I’m pretty bloody emotional to be honest. I love this club, 18 years since the last one, we will celebrate this one.”
Dennington coach Melissa Burt was disappointed her side couldn’t claim a historic fourth consecutive premiership but praised the Blues.
“They got a bit of momentum and we dropped our heads a bit,” she said.
“They just worked so hard, they were all heart out there.”
Burt said she was proud of her team, which had shouldered the heavy expectations of a fourth consecutive flag throughout the year.
“I guess there could have been a little bit of complacency but Nirranda has worked really hard and Steph has worked really hard for this, she has done a great job. Persistence definitely pays off,” she said.
Nirranda centre Jo Couch was named best on court for an energetic performance. Scores were 11 apiece at quarter-time, the Blues led by two goals at the main break, 24-22, and were 35-32 up at the last change.