Rovers’ stunning win

A Grade Mount Evelyn. From left, Steph Jones, Bronte Pearson, Ellie Karoula, Kaitlyn Black, Georgia Marsh, Cassidy Quilty, Gabby Bingley, Jacqui Black. 198098 Picture: ROB CAREW

The Mount Evelyn Football Netball Club’s Division 1 A Grade netball side claimed premiership victory over the weekend with a thrilling 32-29 win over the Monbulk Hawks at Woori Yallock.

The hard-fought three-goal victory for the Rovers was reflective of the high-intensity netball that was on display for the entire four quarters.

Finals nerves appeared to strike both sides early on with a few turnovers at both ends of the court seeing nothing separate the two at quarter-time ﹘ both scoring eight goals each.

An enthralling battle between Mobulk’s star goal shooter Stephanie Puopolo and Mount Evelyn coach and goal keeper Kaitlyn Black ramped up during the second term.

But it was the Rovers’ defender that used her height to capitalise on missed shots at goal, with her numerous rebounds helping the Rovers take a one-goal lead into half-time.

The high-intensity clash continued throughout the second half, with both sides causing havoc in defence and sparking turnovers.

However, the patience of the Rovers soon started to pay off. They took their time working it into the goal ring and extended their lead out to four goals at the end of the third quarter.

But a last-minute wave of momentum from the Hawks during the final term soon brought the crowd into the game and the pressure intensified.

The Hawks reduce the margin to within two goals and looked as though they were going to come back and steal the win.

But the characteristic patience of the Rovers that was on display all day allowed them to hold on until the final siren sounded.

Mt Evelyn coach Kaitlyn Black ﹘ who was also the league best and fairest ﹘ said that despite having beaten Monbulk every time this season, she knew the grand final win was going to be a tough task.

“It’s just surreal, I can’t put into words,” she said.

“We’ve beaten them five out of five times now but we just knew everything had to fall our way for that to happen, it wasn’t going to be an easy walkover.

“For us to hold our nerve there at the end, I’m so proud of the girls.”

The win marked a breakthrough season from the Rovers, who didn’t even make finals last year.

Kaitlyn attributed the change to consistency throughout the entire season.

“Last year we had a squad of nine and then we lost two girls and I got pulled out due to a different league and we were constantly having to fill spots on the court,” she said.

“When we got our full team back at the end of the year we won all of our games but it was too little too late.

“This year, we just had the same eight girls every week and it just made a huge difference.

“Everyone knew how to play together and wanted to be there for each other.”

It wasn’t all celebrations for Mt Evelyn on Sunday, with the Football club’s Reserves side losing the Grand Final against Pakenham 10.7 (67) to 9.4 (58).

The Rovers were leading by 19 points at the start of the final quarter but unlike their A Grade netball side, couldn’t withstand a fightback from the Lions.