By Tara Murray
The young guns of Rupertswood netball have done it again, winning a sixth straight Riddell District Football League under-19 premiership.
Having never lost a game, all the pressure was on the Sharks heading into Sunday’s grand final with Macedon.
The Cats had won through after stunning Woodend-Hesket the week before.
After an even first quarter, the Sharks experience shone through as they broke the game open.
The margin was 13 goals at half time and the game was well and truly over by three quarter time, with the Sharks leading by 17 goals.
Both teams swung the changes in the last quarter, to give other players a go, with the final result a 31-11 win to the Sharks.
Sharks coach Di McCormack said the margin of the win was completely unexpected.
“I watched Macedon play last week and I thought they were going to be a really tough opposition,” she said.
“Our message to our girls was to play our game, we were the one that had to lose it.
“We had take control early on and be patient. We had combos, that we knew would work straight up and we started with our strongest line up.”
She said the experience of the defensive combination of Grace Markovic, Niamh Vhaland and Charlotte Crook was really strong and that you could tell they played a lot of netball together.
McCormack said anyone of Georgia Hellyer, Bec Mailata-Purcell and Holli Bates could have taken out the best on court award.
The umpires awarded it to Hellyer.
“Holli Bates played the game of her life today and she was outstanding and I think she had a lot to do with our scoring and ball movement in attack.
“Georgia just knows how to perform. She has a never say die attitude, she looks for every ball and is just hungry.
It’s the third time Hellyer has been awarded the best on court medal in the under-19 grand final and her fourth best on court medal in five years, having won the B-grade medal last year.
The only year in that time she missed out, she missed the grand final having been part of the team all year.
McCormack said Hellyer was keen to be part of the under-19 program again having played in all six years so far.
“The older girls are eventually going to age out, but they keep telling me one more year, one more year.”
While many of the side had played in premierships before, it was the youngest ones in the group that excited McCormack most.
She said she tried to get on as many of the playing group as possible in the grand final.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the efforts they put out. Young Elisa Hall in her first year with us, she’s only 15 and is getting better and stronger.
“Grace [Markovic] is only 15. Reese Sutton is still a baby and Narena Baker is the same. Holly Barrett broke her arm.
“We had so much depth, that I had to miss two girls out.”