Sport

Bloods flag streak comes to an end

By Southern Riverina News

The Deniliquin Rovers shocked the netball world and ridded themselves of the dreaded ‘‘bridesmaid’’ tag after knocking off Tocumwal in Saturday’s Picola and District league A grade grand final.

The past three seasons had the Bloods deliver heartbreak to the Rovers in the decider, but they flipped the script with one almighty turnaround to win the first A grade title in the club’s 41-year history.

At three-quarter-time, Tocumwal had well and truly laid the challenge at the feet of the Rovers, leading by three goals with 15 minutes to prevent a fourth straight Bloods’ flag.

Remarkably, everything just clicked into place for a Roos side that found its best form at the right time of the season — the last quarter.

It allowed the free-flowing, high-scoring Tocumwal side just two goals for the last quarter, swinging the deficit to win by six goals, 33-27.

Tocumwal playing-coach Millie Ferguson, who was awarded the best-on-court medal, said it was tough losing the decider.

‘‘Everyone had us as heavy favourites going into the game, but we as a group knew that it would be hard to face the Rovers,’’ she said.

‘‘We felt we had control for most of the game but then in the last quarter they just snuck past us.

‘‘It feels so good to win one and knowing that feeling does make it hard when you lose a grand final.

‘‘Although we didn’t get the result we wanted I am still extremely proud of the girls.

‘‘We’ve been in five grand finals in a row now and to finish as minor premiers this year is a great achievement.

‘‘We’ll go back to the drawing board now and prepare for a big season next year.’’

Roos captain Carissa Thommers shot the lights out all day and did the bulk of the scoring as the side charged home, while defenders Chrissy Hurst and Emma Lewis did a lockdown job all day.

For Tocumwal, it meant its five consecutive trips to the grand final have still netted three flags, with Saturday’s defeat just its third of the season.

Rovers coach Grant Matthews paid tribute to the Bloods’ brilliance.

‘‘You’ve got to give respect to Tocumwal, they’re the side that has been such a challenge to get over in recent years,’’ he said.

‘‘It was goal-for-goal early, some opportunities we didn’t capitalise on in the first half. The third quarter, the scoreline will probably show you they controlled the game a bit, just their full-court pressure and ability to turn the ball over allowed that.’’