The Sunbury Lions are hoping a first up finals loss will be a blessing in disguise in the Ballarat Netball League.
Having finished on top and having claimed the minor premiership, the Lions knew if they couldn’t get over the line against North Ballarat City, they had that double chance.
The double chance proved to be vital, with the Lions unable to overcome a slow start on Saturday.
Trailing by 10 goals at quarter time, the Lions never recovered with North Ballarat City winning 44-34.
Lions coach Adam Boldiston said they knew they would always be up against it, with two players from their starting seven missing.
Kate Fletcher missed the game due to Victorian Netball League finals commitments, while Tarnee Adams again missed with a knee injury.
“We were up against it, but we didn’t expect to start that slow,” he said.
“The damage was done by quarter time. We put up a great fight after then and got it back to five of six goals.
“We then made silly mistakes at crucial times.”
Renee Hulls, who stepped up from B-grade, scored 19 goals from 23 attempts in wet conditions.
Boldiston said there was never a question that they would bring Hulls up as their second shooter in the absence of Adams. The Lions have had three B-grade shooters step up during various times during the season.
He said they were hopeful that Adams would be able to play some court time this week against Lake Wendouree in a knock out semi final.
“She’s doing everything right,” he said.
“We’ll look to increase her court time this week. With the slippery court , we didn’t think she would be able to handle it and we’ll ease her back in.”
Fletcher will also return to the side.
Boldiston said if both return like expected they would have their full side for one of the rare occasions this season.
The Lions faced the Lakers in the final round of the season, with the Lakers having a big win on that occasion.
“It will be beneficial to play again this week to get everyone playing together,” he said.
“We’ve had our starting seven about three times this season. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to play again this week, hopefully we’ll get some continuity.”
It was a mixed weekend for the Lions, with their B-grade side getting the win, but their C-grade, D-grade and under-19s all suffering losses.
The B-grade side will play for a grand final spot this weekend, while the C-grade side will play in a knock out semi final.