Rupertswood showed it meant business in its qualifying final win against Macedon in the Riddell District Netball League.
With history against the Sharks – they’d won just one out of six games in the first week of previous finals series – the pressure was on.
This time around they dealt with it successfully, winning 35-28 at Romsey Park.
Sharks acting coach Rohan Vahland was relieved and excited after the match.
Vahland was coaching in the first week of the finals for the second straight year, with regular coach Di McCormack away because of work commitments.
McCormack spent the game on the phone to the bench, keeping up to date.
Vahland said McCormack had done a lot of the hard work before the game.
“The girls were really nervous today, as we had history of not getting through finals,” Vahland said.
“A few of the long timers at the club, they understand the gravity of the win. The girls came to play for themselves.”
Vahland said it was a close game all day, full of ebbs and flows, and the result didn’t feel like a seven-goal win.
After only a couple of goals being in it at half-time, the Sharks gained the momentum in the second half, playing with the confidence of a team that has gone through the season undefeated.
“We’ve only played Macedon once this season and we were able to adjust to every change,” Vahland said.
“The girls just persisted and persevered. The game plan and the moving of the ball worked.”
In a bonus for the Sharks, all 12 players got court time.
Vahland said they didn’t go into the game thinking everyone would take to the court, so it was a big plus.
Jade O’Shannessy, who has stepped up in recent weeks in the absence of other girls, finished with 16 goals, the most for the
Vahland said 15-year-old Grace Markovic stood up in defence when she came on in the second half.
Ailish McCormack, Prue Stanley and Shannon Blackman, the mid-court trio, had good games.
“We had options everywhere,” Vahland said.
The Sharks were without Amy Starzer, who was playing in a football premiership with Aberfeldie.
She will return this week and add to the attacking and defensive mix.
For the Cats, who have a second chance, Chloe Wilson shot 19 goals, but scored at only 58 per cent.
In a big weekend for Rupertswood, all their sides won through to play for grand final spots this week.
The Sharks’ A-grade side will play Wallan for a spot in the grand final. Wallan overcame a determined Riddell side, running away with the game in the last quarter for a 46-31 win.
Macedon will face Romsey in a knockout semi-final.
The Redbacks were too strong for Diggers Rest, winning 48-18.
Redback defenders Stefanie Symes and Danni Jane Umaki were standouts in the win.
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