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Magpies soar past Panthers to final

Dawn TestrowSouth Western Times
Busselton wing attack Ashlea Kitson sizes up her options.
Camera IconBusselton wing attack Ashlea Kitson sizes up her options. Credit: Jon Gellweiler

Busselton Magpies soared into tonight’s South West Netball Football League grand final after a dominant 66-32 victory against Carey Park on Sunday at the Eaton Recreation Centre.

The opening quarter was messy from the first whistle with both teams jostling for an early advantage.

There were multiple turnovers from both teams, but the Magpies nudged ahead late in the quarter through superior defensive pressure from Riley Culnane and Tammy Thornley.

The Magpies finished the first quarter with a 12-7 advantage and looked to go on with the job.

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The Panthers made some positional changes to try to stop the Magpies but their defensive pressure through the mid-court continually denied Carey Park the opportunity to deliver the ball cleanly into their goal shooters.

In contrast, Magpies centre court players Tanieka Handley and Ashlee Ritson were able to take the ball cleanly through the centre and deliver the ball to Brooke Gibson and Maia Bratton — who were unstoppable under the ring.

By half-time, the Magpies had pushed the lead out to 29-13 and the match appeared all but over.

Busselton surged further ahead in the third term with Culnane and Thornley stepping up another gear in defence, along with Harmony Sutherland who was strong at wing defence.

Cat Grochowski and Paris Newman worked hard in defence for the Panthers but early in the final quarter the Panthers’ centre left the court with an ankle injury.

The young Panthers team will look forward to next season having exceeded their own expectations this year, while Busselton will defend their title against Bunbury tonight.

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