Good Friday netball provides fireworks

Centre pass: Annalise Gafa sends the ball forward for Yallourn Yallourn North. Photograph Zoe Askew





WHILE many towns in the Gippsland region were deserted last Friday, with nearly all shops locked up and only a handful of cars on the roads, most of which were driving through on their way to their weekend destination, Yarram was bustling with life as players and onlookers gathered for the North Gippsland Football-Netball League Good Friday playoffs.

Yarram took the court, meeting Yallourn Yallourn North, in what was expected be a hotly contested game between the two sides.

What might not have been expected was the number of ‘more than handy’ inclusions for the visiting team.

Using their networks and the local sporting schedule to full advantage, the Jets were able to draft gun Morwell defender Tanya Budge (whose husband plays football for YYN), fellow dual Morwell A Grade premiership player Lexie Bowe, and Trafalgar A Grade premiership player Ella McDonald into the side.

The Jets ended up tearing away in the final quarter, taking home the win by four goals, 38 to 34.

YYN came out strong, snagging a few early goals to put them in the lead, but a fiery Yarram turned up the heat, netting consecutive goals to even the score 10 minutes into the first quarter.

With the Jets struggling to find their players, the Demons took advantage, intercepting and turning over balls in mid-court before finding accurate shooter Bella Bettridge in the ring to put Yarram ahead 13-10 by the end of the first quarter.

YYN returned to the court like a bull out of the gate, shooting the first few goals in a hot start to the second quarter.

The Jets pressed hard, searching for a third consecutive goal to equalise the score.

While YYN was presented with several opportunities to even the score, Yarram would not make it easy for YYN, with fantastic defensive play from goalkeeper Madison Roberts, supported well by goal defender Hazel Kerrison-Male.

Following a nail-biting back-and-forth and a scoreless three minutes, Yarram added a goal to to lead the Jets by two, 14-12.

YYN wing defence Samira Heffernan displayed relentless tenacity returning to the court in the second quarter, her athleticism and workhorse mentality rewarding the Jets with numerous turnovers throughout the match.

In the centre, YYN drew strength from Annalise Gafa; her high work rate, fast pace and impressive agility wreaked havoc for the Demons.

Budge slid into YYN’s defensive line-up and was unsurprisingly one of the best on court.

Yarram wing attack Lily Kerrison-Male was a strong player for the home side, alongside Bettridge and Roberts.

Scores remained relatively even in the second.Bettridge shot five goals and Yarram goal attack Ella Rendell scored two in the second quarter, while YYN goal shooter Shelby Carr netted six and Bowe scored two.

Yarram led YYN 20-18 at the halftime break.

The Jets evened the score early in the third quarter with two consecutive goals before going ahead for the first time since the game’s opening minutes, and extended their lead 24-22.

Yarram was quick to even the score but not for long, with YYN scraping back a one-point lead before breaking away to lead 31-28 at the final break.

YYN continued to pull away early in the final quarter with great play from wing attack McDonald and Carr in goal attack.

Yarram wasn’t about to give up. The Demons worked hard until the very last second, equalising the score in the final five minutes.

Kerrison-Male was impressive for Yarram at centre in the fourth quarter, running the midcourt with physicality, speed, agility and a high work rate.

YYN pulled one point ahead of Yarram 35 to 34.

Budge read the Demons’ play in the shooting ring like a book intercepting and turning over the ball, quickly starting YYN’s counterattack.

A fluid, fast-paced play up the court to Bowe and Carr in the shooting ring saw YYN draw away in the game’s closing minutes.

The Jets found Bowe and Carr twice more before the final whistle, the home team leaving the court gassed and disappointed as YYN claimed the win.

Shellby Carr was best on court for YYN, with Emily Sherry a close second.

In other games, the Jets defeated the Demons 51-23 in B Grade, 32-8 in C Grade and 23-17 in D Grade.

Demons defeat Jets in entertaining game of senior football – page 22.