Ararat shooter Jakki Gibson in action during the Rats big win over Stawell in the final round of the Wimmera Netball Association home and away season. Picture: MARK MCMILLIANARARAT will have five of its six netball sides compete in this year’s Wimmera Netball Association finals, with B grade the unlucky side to miss out on September action, finishing the home and away season in six position just one win out of contention.
The all conquering A grade team heads into another finals’ campaign eager to taste premiership glory for the first time since 2009.
The Rats will take on the Warrack Eagles at Murtoa tomorrow in the qualifying final with plenty of confidence following last Saturday’s 43-goal smashing of Stawell.
Ararat got out of the blocks quickly against the Warriors with a 17-goal to three opening quarter, before extending the buffer to 23 by the main break.
Stawell managed to restrict the Rats in the third term before the flood gates opened in the fourth quarter. The visitors piled on 20 goals to the Warriors’ four to run out convincing winners 67 to 24.
Rats’ coach Rebecca Skrabl said the final term blitz was the perfect lead in to week one of finals.
“It was definitely a step up from where we have been the last couple of weeks,” she said.
“We had two really good quarters, which were the first and the fourth. We were a little bit flat during the second and third quarter, but to finish off the way we did I am really happy we are lifting to where we need to be heading into finals.
“When we were hitting our high during the start of the season that was really the standard we were playing at, so it is a promising sign to see that coming back.”
Skrabl highlighted Ararat’s drive down the court as one of the biggest positives of the match, with best on court Kate Bligh the main orchestrator in centre.
“Kate is always a really solid contributor and she was just instrumental with our movement into attack,” she said.
“Also her defensive abilities around the ring were great, she picked off a lot of balls.”
Ararat has faced the Eagles twice during the home and away season, defeating the third placed team by a margin of eight goals in round six and 22 in round 13.
Skrabl said on both occasions the Rats weren’t at full potential, but will take their strongest line-up into tomorrow’s clash.
“I don’t think our previous two games against Warrack have been our best, particularly we had a bit of illness in the team the second time around,” she said.
“We are definitely looking forward to this game and ready for the challenge that we know we will get from them.”
The curtain fell on Ararat’s B grade season last Saturday, with the Warriors handing the Rats a 66 to 25 thumping.
The visitors went into the game with hopes of playing finals still mathematically alive, however without three of its midcourt players Ararat’s cause wasn’t helped.
Jacqui Scott stepped up from the 17 and unders and was a good contributor in wing attack and centre, passing well into the goalies and getting her hands to a number of loose balls.
Joint-coach Kara Cunningham stepped out of defence and into the midcourt as well to help fill the void and showed strong leadership.
Ararat’s 17 and unders produced a four quarter performance against the higher placed Warriors, which saw the Rats come away with a 52 to 28 goal win and a confidence booster ahead of Sunday’s rematch against Stawell in the do or die final.
Maddi Batchelor and Georgia Fleming dominated in goals with their accurate shooting, fantastic movement and team work.
The defensive pressure applied by the team all game created numerous scoring opportunities as the Rats built a lead at every change to record the 24-goal win.
The Rats’ 15 and under A team came out firing in the first half of its clash, gaining a 24-goal lead by halftime.
In the third quarter coaches Lauri and Brooke Williamson mixed up the side to rest some of the players that usually wouldn’t have a break, which meant re-adjusting to the changes making the third quarter (Ararat five goals, Stawell four) the closest.
Ararat’s two shooters, Tayla Borrelli and Rachael Fratin were stand out performers in the eventual 30-goal victory, with strong passing and an accurate conversion rate.
In previous weeks, the Rats haven’t had their full contingent of players in the 15 and under Bs, but started to get back to full strength at the weekend.
Coach Megan Shea said Ararat had a tough practice match against its Tatyoon counterpart in the lead up to the Stawell match, which proved a good opportunity to ‘blow out the cobwebs’.
The midweek hitout worked, with the Rats claiming a 48-goal win.
Lilly Sewell shot consistently and led strongly in the goal circle, while Briony Cann passed confidently down the court.
Karly Griffits was also recognised for her efforts in centre and wing defence.
Ararat’s 13 and unders stepped onto the court with plenty of enthusiasm, starting the first quarter against the Warriors on fire to lead by three goals at the first change.
The Rats maintained the lead at every change, with Katelin McDonald again picking up numerous intercepts and propelling the ball down the court, where Racquel Scott was waiting.
Scott has slotted beautifully into goals in recent weeks and is an important player in the attacking end.
The Rats and Warriors will meet again this Sunday in the elimination final.
Coach Kate Bligh said after losing the last encounter between the two sides by 18 goals, last weekend’s 33 to 32 win ‘is a huge confidence booster coming into finals’.
Saturday, August 30 – Murtoa Rec. Reserve
A grade: Ararat vs Warrack Eagles
15 and under A: Ararat vs Horsham Saints
15 and under B: Ararat vs Horsham Saints
Sunday, August 31 – Horsham City Oval
17 and under: Ararat vs Stawell
13 and under: Ararat vs Warrack Eagles
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