TONGALA won a battle of Murray Netball League heavyweights on Saturday, grabbing second place on the table with a 42-35 win against Echuca United.
The lead went back and forth but the Blues surged in the second half to hold on for a fourth straight win, their second win of the season against United after a 26-24 result in round one.
Having been pushed throughout the game, Tongala coach Alicia White was thrilled with the side’s ability to stay in the contest and take the win.
‘‘It was an awesome win really, we really worked hard towards that one,’’ she said.
‘‘It was a really gutsy win, and it’s great to know that even when we are down we can pull ourselves out and keep going.
‘‘Everyone was really hungry for the win, you could see it on the court that everyone really wanted it.’’
The Blues got the better start as both teams turned the ball over frequently, Tongala building a handy lead, 12-8 at the first break.
But the Eagles, missing Elle Florance, fought back, lifting their work rate to pressure the Blues, and led at half-time by four goals.
With the game slipping away from her side, White said she’d changed positions around with nothing to lose.
And it seemed to pay off, as the Blues wrestled the lead back and took a four goal advantage to the final term.
They held on, sealing a hard-earned win by seven goals.
White said the game meant a lot to her side because of its ability to decide who will finish higher on the ladder.
‘‘Winning (on Saturday) could mean in the long run we might finish second, and that means a double chance in finals,’’ she said
The mass changes at half-time saw Sarah Pettifer move to wing attack, where she established herself and dominated the mid-court.
‘‘As soon as she came out to wing attack, we looked better,’’ White said.
‘‘She’s a leader, so to have Tracey leading within the goal circle and her leading the mid-court was great.’’
Amy Hammond continued stellar form with a dominating performance impressing her coach.
‘‘She was absolutely outstanding, just brilliant,’’ White said.
‘‘She would have had 15 to 20 interceptions, it was one of the best games I’ve ever seen her play.
‘‘She was desperate for every ball, and when they were passing to her opponent, the pass had to be perfect or she was taking the ball away.’’
Tongala’s calm attacking play was potentially the difference between the sides, the Blues able to wait to find the best option when going forward.
‘‘Our patience was really good, we didn’t panic with the ball,’’ White said.
‘‘Even on the attacking end, possibly at times it didn’t flow but we were smart and patient to find the best option.’’
The Eagles will use their bye to regroup after the defeat, knowing only their best will see them competitive with Moama in round 13.
They slipped to fourth on the ladder, jumped also by Numurkah who are also 10-2.
Tongala will face Nathalia after the bye before getting their turn to face the league’s best side.
‘‘We’re not looking too far ahead, but we know we’ve got that big game against Moama coming,’’ White said.
‘‘That will be tough, but we’re Tongala; we know anything can happen.’’