Stormy weather reigned over National Park on Saturday afternoon, but as Souths and Wests came face to face in the Greater Open Championship major semi-final it was on the court that dark clouds loomed.
Both teams came together with smiles and hugs after the final whistle which saw Wests move one step closer to a repeat championship with a 48-38 victory, but until then both squads were arch-rivals.
Souths took an early lead in the fixture, with Brooke Fennings and Katelyn Stansfield leading the team to a two-goal lead at the first quarter, but Wests fought back to claim the tie.
Major hauls in the second and third swung momentum, and control of the lead, with Sophie Buckley winning the mid-court tussle to pull the swings for Wests and allowed Emma Prince to break into the clash.
With eyes now turned to the grand final for Wests, coach Tracey Baggs admitted she was relieved to move straight into the final match.
“The conditions were poor, but we adjusted better, and the girls played really well considering we just had the seven,” Baggs said.
“Prince did really well in goal attack, it took a lot of pressure off Maddie [Taylor, shooter] and she was putting a lot of shots up and getting them in. It was definitely key.”
Also on Saturday, earlier in the afternoon, Forsythes and BNC Whanau contested the second place in the preliminary final.
An early lead for the ladies in blue proved key as the weather soured into the contest, and Forsythes’ shooting combination in Sabina Gomboso and Bronte Magin shone bright in the 50-30 win.
Gomboso’s battle with BNC’s Dakota Thomas, who sat out the game’s first quarter, was a highlight of the elimination match as the two representative players locked horns.
It was Gomboso’s supporting cast – including centre Karlie Robards and the team’s defensive combo of Keeley Mullins and Angela Williams – that made all the difference as Forsythes’ lead stretched to 20, and kept their campaign alive.
Forsythes will now face Souths. Wests have the bye.
First published as: Wests step straight into grand final