Thrilling tie in the Hutchison Medal

Staff Writers


TWO players shared Gippsland League netball’s most prestigious individual honour following a
thrilling Hutchison Medal vote count last night.
Leongatha centre Nicola Marriott and Warragul defender Christie Hillberg could not be split after polling 15 votes.
Just two votes separated the top six placegetters at the end of the count, broadcast online due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Traralgon’s Amy Harrison and Hannah Flanders finished tied for third on 14 votes, with Wonthaggi Power’s Jessica McRae and Morwell ace Tanya Budge tied for fifth on 13 votes.
Marriott becomes the first Parrots player since Andrea Pearce in 2001 to win the award, while Hillberg, who was runner-up to Montana Holmes in 2019, joins Renee Cook as the only Gulls to secure the Hutchison Medal.
Marriott got off to a flyer, polling eight votes in the first three rounds, including best-on-court displays against Wonthaggi Power and Drouin.
Moe defender Ramayer Gourley and Budge were near the top of the leaderboard during the initial stages of the vote count.
At points it looked as it would be a Parrots quinella with Marriott’s teammate Flanders drawing level in Round 6 and then taking the front on the back of a two-vote haul in Leongatha’s Round 7 win against Moe. Maroons star Harrison then made her move, with consecutive best-on-court displays in wins against Wonthaggi Power and Morwell lifting her to 14 votes with two rounds remaining.
Hillberg finished the season in strong fashion, polling seven votes in her final three matches, including a best-on-court effort against Sale in Round 9.
Six players were in the hunt to win the gong going into the final round, but it would ultimately prove the Marriott and Hillberg show.
Marriott polled the three votes and Flanders the two in Leongatha’s win against Sale, with Hillberg then drawing level after gaining two votes in Warragul’s loss to Morwell.
Morwell’s Milly Murphy won the Dawn Pearce Medal as the B Grade league best and fairest with 17 votes, one clear of Traralgon’s Kasey Guttridge.
Maffra’s Brooke Anderson polled 20 votes to win the Karen Proctor Medal (C Grade), finishing one vote clear of Jessica Murray (Leongatha).
Maffra rising star Chelsea Allman was a clear winner of the 17 years and under best and fairest, polling 21 votes to finish four clear of Sale’s Charlotte Ronchi.
Maffra’s Matilda Pendergast won the 15 years and under best and fairest, polling 18 votes to beat Bairnsdale’s Jordan O’Connor by one.
Leongatha’s Lara Cocksedge and Sale’s Mia Ballinger tied on 18 votes to win the 13 and under best and fairest award.