It was third time lucky for Lake Wendouree against Sunbury Lions in the Ballarat Netball League B-grade grand final.
The two teams have done battle in the last two grand finals and again faced off in Saturday’s decider.
For the Lions, they were searching a fourth straight flag, but this year they had been really tested after going through the last two seasons undefeated.
The Lakers inflicted the Lions first loss since 2014 in the qualifying final, with the two teams winning through to the grand final for another clash.
It was an even start, with both teams going goal for goal in the first part of the first quarter in very windy conditions.
The Lions held a one goal lead at quarter time, but had a major injury concern. Star shooter Amanda Cusack hurt her knee in the first quarter and spent the first break getting that knee strapped.
The Lakers made some changes, including moving Kate Drew back onto Cusack. Drew would later be named best on court.
The Lions maintained the lead at half time, but the Lakers were showing signs they were starting to take control of the game.
They were starting to get intercepts in the defensive end and were making sure the Lions couldn’t stick with their game plan and the Lions started to show signs of frustration.
The Lakers work paid off in the third quarter. They led by two goals at the final break, after holding a then game high lead of four goals during the third quarter.
So many times over the last couple of years the Lions would find another gear, but it wasn’t to come. The last quarter was all about the Lakers.
They showed more patience and continued to create turnovers as the Lions frustrations were becoming obvious.
The Lakers winning, 43-37.
Lions’ coach Adam Boldiston said the Lakers were clearly the better side on the day.
“We really struggled and we went away from the game plan,” he said.
“Amanda Cusack did her knee early in the first quarter and it rattled her a bit and she wasn’t able to play her normal game.
“We were also hesitant in letting the ball go to her. We were just not consistent today and Lakers were cleaning up ball scraps and in the past we’ve been able to do that.”
“I knew it was going to be really tough, but I’m still proud of them and we did a great job.”
Boldiston said this year had been one of development for the side which he said would likely get stronger next season.
“They’ve absolutely learnt and grown and developed and got new strings to the bow. As Suzi [Johnson] said at the best and fairest night, ‘It just goes to show you can teach an old dog new tricks’.
“Hopefully we should have Loz Wishart back after she’s had a baby, and Nicole Isles might get back at the end of the season, depends on her knee.”
For the Lakers, the capped off a remarkable day, winning three netball grand finals. They defeated the Lions in all three of those grand finals.
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