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Redbacks bite back in Riddell District netball thrillers

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Grace Frost
Grace Frost
Hi, I'm Grace Frost. I was honoured to report for the Review as their Digital Journalist from mid-2022 to the beginning of 2024. Ive since made a move to the Herald Sun.

FINALS action for Riddell District Football Netball League’s A Grade netball competition kicked off with two thrillers at the weekend as Romsey and Woodend-Hesket both secured places in the semi-finals.

Romsey came up against Wallan in Sunday’s elimination final and emerged the victors – the pair two of the closest-matched sides in the A Grade competition throughout the season.

Ending with a draw at full time, the match was forced into overtime, and at the final siren, it was Romsey ending Wallan’s season with a three-goal victory.

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Redbacks coach Lena Way said her team held their composure well to keep the Pies at bay.

“We had a strategy to put extra defensive pressure at their goaling end and that paid off,” she said.

“We got a couple of quick turnovers and then we were able to capitalise on those turnovers. We knew it would be a hotly-contested game, especially in the goal ring.”

Romsey fielded a mixture of both young and experienced players on Saturday, helping to build support for the younger players while also bringing energy to a team that has struggled with injuries all season.

Way named goal attack Maggie Lind, wing attack Cayley Blair, goal defence Lucia Fauonuku and centre Emily Miles as standout performers – Fauonuku and Miles among the most experienced and youngest players on the team, respectively.

“I think our girls did exceptionally well to play in those really tense circumstances, knowing that it’s an elimination final and they don’t have a second chance,” Way said.

“Given where we were early in the season, we were definitely in the lower half of the ladder and we’ve just had a very unsettling season with injury and illness but it’s all come together at the right time.”

Way also praised the consistent efforts of Emma Grech, one of the team’s most dependable goalers and the fourth-highest-scoring player in the A Grade competition with more than 350 goals.

“For a young player, only her second year in A Grade, she’s having an exceptional season,” she said.

“She’s been our main goaler every week and every time she plays, she shows up. She’s handled the pressure very well.”

With the Redbacks set to face Macedon this weekend, Way said the focus would be on adapting to their opponents and learning from previous encounters.

“It’s all about strategising, capitalising on their weaknesses. We’ll be coming up with a strategy specifically to play that team,” she said.

Meanwhile, in Saturday’s qualifying final at Romsey, Woodend-Hesket came out on top over Macedon by just one goal in a nail-biting match-up.

The victory means the Hawks will now face Riddell in the first semi-final this Saturday, while the Cats have a second chance to keep their finals campaign going and will play Romsey on Sunday.

The most recent match between the Redbacks and the Cats was played in round 16, with Macedon coming out on top by five goals that day.

However with Romsey’s revitalised team looking to capitalise on the momentum of last weekend’s win – the clash set to be a close contest for both sides.

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