The Sunbury Lions’ A-grade side has lived up to expectations by delivering the club its first Ballarat Netball League A-grade premiership since 2013.
As early season favourites, the Lions quickly become the hunted.
A draw against Redan would be the only blemish during the regular season, as they finished four games clear on top of the ladder.
The Lions were challenged during the finals, when a poor game against North Ballarat City ended with a loss that meant they needed to make the grand final the hard way.
When they accomplished that, it set up another clash with City – this time in the grand final.
There wouldn’t be a second upset between the two teams, with the Lions winning 44-38 on Sunday.
Lions coach Adam Boldiston was ecstatic after the game. He coached the Lions in 2015 when they finished runners-up to North Ballarat City. Three players from that team were part of this year’s side.
“I’m elated,” he said. “We worked really hard. We’ve been the form team, but we’ve really been challenged as well. I thought we weathered the storm.”
In the grand final, the Lions flew out of the blocks in less then ideal netballing conditions. A strong wind played havoc with passes and shots all day and at times caused dust storms.
The Lions led 17-5 at quarter-time, with Boldiston saying the scoreline was a statement of intent following the loss the last time the teams met.
“We’re all about getting away to that good start and today they were really switched on,” he said.
“The loss the other week really hurt them and they were out to make a real statement today.
“That first quarter was amazing, but I knew North would come back.”
Boldiston wasn’t wrong, with City closing the gap to four goals late in the second quarter.
While the Lions looked dominant in the first quarter, in the second they weren’t able to get their hands on the ball and City was capitalising on turnovers.
The Lions held a six-goal lead at half-time, but had a real game on their hands.
“We came out of the blocks amazing today, but when you do that you’re always at risk of having a bit of a lull,” Boldiston said.
“There’s always a scoring end and there definitely was one today. We had a little bit of a lapse, but we were able to get it back.
“It was important to have that lead. Going into the last, I think we were about seven up.”
The third and fourth quarters were topsy-turvy affairs, the Lions building a decent margin before City would come back at them.
The closest City would get was three goals.
Chloe Curran was named best on court by the umpires. She shot 36 goals from 48 attempts.
Boldiston said Curran had done a massive amount of work every week.
“In the first quarter she was dominant and I was impressed,” he said.
“The conditions were atrocious for the shooters – I felt sorry for them.
“She nailed some pressure shots for us late. We tried to attack a certain side of the post, as it was easier to shoot one side than the other. She stood up.”
Boldiston said that while Curran was named best on court, every player stepped up when they needed to.
“There was some really steadying play in the middle by Tarryn Munro,” he said. “Loz Gilcrist picked up a couple of crucial intercepts.
“Elly Randall came on and did her job in the last quarter and provided a little bit of a stop there, which was needed.
“Ruth Smith freed up Chloe and had a really good game – a solid four quarters today.”
While the Sunbury Lions’ A-grade side came away with premiership glory, there was heartbreak for their three other grand final sides.
Their B, C and D sides all lost.
For more about those games, go to www.starweekly.com.au/sports