A BLISTERING start propelled Hampden Green to an upset victory in the Western Regional State League 17 and under netball grand final at Warrnambool Stadium last night.
Nanjing Night Net

Green, which scraped into the final with a last-minute goal last week, defeated Hampden White 46-38 in a fiercely-contested match.

Hampden was unable to fly its colours in the open final, with its White team falling 50-39 to Camperdown Night.

Green set up the Hampden Football Netball League’s third 17 and under title in five years with a stunning four-minute burst in the opening term.

Between the four and eight-minute mark, Green scored six consecutive goals as it swiftly moved the ball to dominant goal attack Skye Billings, who shot 10 goals without a miss for the term.

Assistant coach Jackie Smedts said her side’s ability to stick to its game plan was the difference between a win and its semi-final loss to White.

“They went out strong and fell in a bit of hole in the second quarter,” she said.

“White played a very hard, fast game and we got sucked into that and we lost our process. But in the end it came down to we had to keep attacking and stick to the plan, slow down a bit.

“It just goes to show when it comes down to it, it’s all above the shoulders. If they can keep their head and not get down, then things don’t go your way.”

Smedts said the work by goal defence Jordan Billings in intercepting and providing lightning rebounds was a crucial factor in the result.

“The Billings girls were outstanding. I thought Jordan Billings was unbelievable,” she said. She said Green had been unable to play star Annie Blackburn because of basketball commitments. “To actually win the game and not have Annie Blackburn on court was a credit to the girls on the court,” she said.

White coach Kate Kearney lamented her side’s start.

“To say I’m disappointed would be an understatement,”she said.

“I didn’t anticipate making the amount of changes we had to make. We had a bit of a reality check at quarter-time.”

Kearney said her girls started nervously.

“We probably panicked when we got the ball and we made silly mistakes, which led to turnovers,” she said.

Kearney said the way her side responded after quarter-time was pleasing.

“They came off at quarter- time and addressed that and said it wasn’t good enough. They fought for 60 minutes. I couldn’t be prouder of the way they did that,” she said.

Green’s slick ball movement in the opening quarter contrasted with White’s tentative forward moves. White fought hard, especially in the midcourt after quarter-time, and broke even. After trailing by nine at three-quarter time, White got within five midway into the last term but an ankle injury to wing defence Lisa Couch halted momentum.

Both sides had members selected in the all-star team, with White goaler Kate O’Meara and defender Ebony Stacey joined by Green’s Annie Blackburn, Skye and Jordan Billings and wing attack Chelsea Swarbrick, who was named player of the match.

n Full details of the open grand final and award winners in both grades will be featured in tomorrow’s issue of The Standard.

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