Sunbury Lions’ grand final hopes remain on track after a solid Ballarat Netball League qualifying final win against Redan on Saturday.
Clearly the premiership favourites, the Lions’ focus was getting off to a good start and preventing a shoot-out late in the game.
They succeeded – and once in front, were never headed on the way to a 48-41 win.
Lions coach Adam Boldiston was happy to get through what he had expected to be a tough match.
“We played really well and stood up to the physicality,” he said.
“We were up by six goals at quarter-time and were always in control. The previous two times we had slow starts against Redan and it was a real grind.
“This time we built across the second and third quarter … we were up by 14 or 15 goals in the last quarter before they got a few junk goals.”
Boldiston said defenders Monique Clark and Ashleigh Hardy were strong in defence.
He was full of praise for Ruth Smith, who shot 22 goals, one of her highest tallies for the season.
“She had a really high work rate,” he said.
“She shouldered a lot of the work load and really had a great game. Other teams’ first focus is to shut down [goal shooter] Chloe [Curran] and double team her. Ruth has proven she can shoot out games.”
Boldiston said the Lions would continue to work hard ahead of their clash against North Ballarat City this weekend. The winner will go straight through to the grand final.
“We know we are the hunted and the girls are experienced enough and quite comfortable with that,” he said.
“They know what to do and know they have to put in the hard work.”
The Lions’ B-grade side suffered a shock loss at the hands of Lake Wendouree. The Lions had won 61 games in a row.
Boldiston said the loss would fire them up for the rest of the finals series.
The Lions will play Redan in an elimination semi-final.
The Lions’ C and D grade sides both won their qualifying finals.
As with the A-grade side, they will be playing for grand final spots this weekend.