TYPICAL of Gippsland League netball season thus far, Bairnsdale went right to the wire to defeat Sale by two goals in the first half of the split round.
Heading into A grade, Sale looked set for a clean sweep at Bairnsdale’s courts on Saturday, until a determined Redlegs side put a swift stop to any such notion in the final quarter.
Leading by five goals at three-quarter-time, the Magpies looked to tease the victory out of the Redlegs’ grasp, that was, until Bairnsdale got second wind and lifted its tempo.
The ripple effect began in defence, as Bairnsdale goal keeper Michaela O’Connor hoovered up rebounds and intercepted to the Magpies’ detriment.
From there, Bairnsdale wing attack Ashleigh Wheeler rushed to her aid, providing a vital option to safeguard the ball down the court, while goal attack Sally Deller added the finishing touches in the Redlegs’ goal circle, shooting with accuracy and tenacity.
With supporters on both sides on their feet, Bairnsdale stormed home to win the match 36-34 at the final whistle.
Sale’s Jenny Wrigglesworth, still recovering from last week’s knee injury, scooped Sale’s best-on-court awards, along with Kristy Glover in midcourt and Ruby Phillips in defence.
The Mental Health Round medals, presented to the best-on-court in each of the day’s games, went to Deller.
With finals firmly out of reach for the Magpies, Sale will be playing for pride at home against Warragul after its bye weekend.
IN other split round matches, first-placed Morwell trampled last-placed Wonthaggi 65-30 as it storms its way to a minor premiership, while Leongatha was overpowered at home by Drouin, 60-50.
WARRAGUL will be vying for a finals position this weekend when it faces Maffra in the second half of the split round.
The two teams have been neck-and-neck for weeks, with the Eagles only just notched ahead on the ladder, clinging to a top five spot by two per cent.
While Maffra negotiated a win previously by six in round seven, neither side will be overly confident — victory could come down to which side plays the most of its named players, with both teams suffering extensively from injuries this season.
The road is rocky ahead for Maffra — with three rounds to go, the Eagles also face stiff competition against fourth-placed Moe and second-placed Traralgon, while, historically,
Warragul has had a much easier run against ninth-placed Sale
and seventh-placed Bairnsdale.
This weekend’s match will likely decide whether the Eagles have a fighting chance to make finals.