The missing piece of the puzzle is finally complete for Rupertswood in the Riddell District Netball League.
Having claimed 13 premierships in the five years across three grades, the Sharks hadn’t been able to get the one they wanted most – the A-grade premiership.
On Sunday, that changed with the Sharks claiming the A-grade premiership by the barest of margins.
After a number of blowouts in A-grade grand finals in recent years, this one was a thriller against Macedon.
It came down to the dying seconds, with the Sharks claiming the win 44-43.
Sharks coach Di McCormack said she had no words after finally claiming the premiership they had been after.
“All the way through the game it was a battle,” she said.
“I knew I had to do something to change their momentum and change what they did.
“A few tweaks and putting more pressure on Chloe [Wilson], she was on fire today and she was the one we had to shut down.
“We pulled together as a team and played some combos we hadn’t tried before.”
Macedon got the first break in the first quarter, to open up a two-goal lead.
The Cats, who were looking to go back-to-back, were able to keep the lead throughout the rest of the first and second quarters.
The margin got out to four goals, but every time the Cats looked to be getting away with it, the Sharks would respond.
McCormack, who wasn’t afraid to make changes throughout the season, threw out some different combinations.
Amy Starzer got her first court time of the finals series, coming on in the second quarter as goal shooter.
Grace Markovic, who started in goal defence, moved into wing defence in the second half.
McCormack said it was about bringing intensity and some fresh legs, and both players really stood up.
“Amy brought a different look to the circle,” she said. “I thought Grace’s tall hands over the ball in the windy conditions would make them put the ball up higher.
“We were just trying to get the match-ups right.”
The Sharks took the lead in the third quarter, but it was the Cats turn to respond. The margin was two goals at three-quarter time in favour of the Cats. With the game on the line, McCormack made more changes.
She took off team-of-the-year midcourters Prue Stanley and Ailish McCormack.
Tee Salanoa came back on in a surprise position of wing attack.
“It was one out of the bag and Tee didn’t know it was coming,” Di McCormack said.
“I thought Ailish had done a huge part of work and they had tried to shut her down.
“Tee is just so strong. We had to do something to break Macedon’s rhythm.”
Scores were level at 39, before the two teams traded goals. With the pressure on, both sides missed shots they would normally get. The Sharks held their nerve to win.
McCormack said it was about getting in front and making sure they shut down Cats goaler Chloe Wilson. Wilson shot 40 goals from 43 attempts.
For the Sharks, Hannah Keane was brilliant in goals playing beyond her 16 years.
Matilda Elliot, who came on in the first quarter in goal defense, was named best on court for her defensive efforts.
She produced a number of turnovers late in the game, helping her side get the win.
McCormack said Elliot was brilliant and has a never-say-die attitude.
McCormack said everyone who stepped on the court played their role.
“It was more so the intensity was there and the need for fresh legs,” she said.
“Even to bring Jade [O’Shannessy] on right at the end and to do what she did, was outstanding.
“I thought everyone put out a great effort. It was more about getting the match-ups right.”
The A-grade premiership capped off a good day for Rupertswood, winning three netball premierships.
The under-19s and C-grade both had big wins against Macedon and Diggers Rest respectively. The B-grade side, which was looking for a sixth straight premiership, lost to Romsey in overtime.
For more on the other three grand finals, go to www.starweekly.com.au/sports