MOAMA Netball Club has moved one game closer to premiership glory after Saturday.
It will go straight through to this year’s Murray Netball League grand final having defeated Tongala by 19 goals in the weekend’s second semi-final at Barooga.
The Mowers capitalised on a strong first quarter to win by the resounding margin, confirming them as the flag favourites.
They’ve been the benchmark side all year, according to Blues coach Alicia White who felt Moama was definitely a step above the other teams in the league.
‘‘Besides Moama it’s been very consistent between the teams below,’’ White said.
‘‘Moama are a beautiful team and have been all year.
‘‘If we come up against them again, it will be different game in terms of our line-up and mindset.’’
She had hoped for a strong start at the weekend, but the day’s circumstances made for challenging games in A and B grade.
A family tragedy the morning of the game ruled out Abby and Sarah Pettifer and meant several players had to play two games.
‘‘I thought we did as well as we could with the team we had and the players we had,’’ White said.
‘‘We had four on the court who had just played full games in B grade.
‘‘We’re disappointed we let them get away in the last quarter.
‘‘We just wanted a bit more consistency, but in saying that it is what it is and we’re going to start fresh next week and come out firing.’’
Paige Wade backed up a full game as centre in B grade to play two and a bit quarters in A with Stacey McGill, Serena Backman and Maddison Tinning the other multiple gamers.
‘‘I think we had some beautiful passages of play,’’ White said.
‘‘But we struggled for leadership out on the court.
‘‘When we had turnovers we were just bombing it long and not having the steady head to go short option first.’’
Moama were quicker off the mark on Saturday and attacked the ball with greater intensity to create multiple turnovers down the court.
Its defensive pressure forced the Blues to throw behind several times in bringing the ball out of defence, despite the calls of coach White to come forward. A few impatient passes found the hands of Moama players who responded with quick play down the court, finding goalers Steph Watson and Georgia Groves under the post.
It helped to build a seven-goal lead in the first quarter, 16-9.
Moama came out firing again at the start of the second term, building the lead to 13 goals by half-time, 27-14.
Tongala’s Backman was matched for height in the ring against Moama’s Angela Slattery who kept the tall shooter quiet for the first half.
Slattery was strong on the rebounds, making Tongala pay for any missed shots while at the other end Groves was close to 100 per cent goaling efficiency.
Tongala’s wing defence Amy Hammond did well in shutting down Emily Taverna around the ring and Amy O’Neill worked hard in goal keeper for the Blues to take plenty of intercepts, but it was often turned over again in the middle third as Moama players read the play well to pick off any floating passes.
The Mowers dropped a little in intensity in the third term, but still managed to increase the margin by two more goals to be up 35-20 at three-quarter-time.
They showed their depth by bringing on Emilly Atkinson into goal shooter, with Groves moved out into goal attack and Cindy Kusli coming on as wing attack.
Moama coach Charlotte Long said it was good to have the versatility to bring on fresh players.
‘‘I wasn’t going into the game thinking I was going to make changes, but it was nice seeing that we can swap it up and see what happens and can use that in the next final,’’ she said.
‘‘We’re lucky to have three players on the bench who are just as strong as the seven out on the court.
‘‘The whole 10 of us are really equal and it comes down to who’s playing best on the day.’’
White looked to hurt herself in the third quarter, grabbing her hamstring at one point as she went to the ground.
With a depleted bench she played on and managed to take several intercepts in the middle third and lift her team.
But the Mowers continued to run the game out and starved the Blues for the opportunities to win 48-29.
‘‘We wanted to play classy netball and put on a show and I think we did,’’ Long said.
‘‘Our game was really composed, which was a goal of ours going into it.
‘‘Georgia (Groves) was the stand out by a mile.
‘‘Her composure as an 18-year-old in the ring is unbelievable and those defenders aren’t easy to play on.
‘‘They’re quite rough compared to other defenders in the league and she kept her head and shot amazing.
‘‘She really calmed me down in first quarter and gave me confidence in whole team by getting all her goals in.’’
Moama has the week off before the grand final at Rumbalara in two weeks.
Tongala will play off for a place in the grand final this weekend at Cobram and White looked forward to having another chance at potentially playing Moama in the big dance.
‘‘In finals it can really go either way,’’ she said.
‘‘You can be on top all year and come the grand final choke, as we know all too well coming from Tongala.’’