Pies defend title on night to remember

Dawn TestrowSouth Western Times
Busselton’s Open women celebrate their grand final win.
Camera IconBusselton’s Open women celebrate their grand final win. Credit: Busselton Football Club

Busselton were crowned 2018 South West Netball Football League champions with a 53-38 victory over Bunbury at Eaton Recreation Centre on Friday night.

In front of a 500-strong crowd of vocal supporters, Busselton had already won the 15s and A-reserve grand final and were looking to complete a memorable hat-trick.

Bunbury had other ideas and started the game with speed and slick passing from Rikki Hubber and Neva Nielsen, who provided great service to Charmaine Slater and Cassidy Anderson, who rewarded them with a 5-0 start.

Bulldogs goalkeeper Shaylee Green was strong early against Maia Bratton, but the Magpies eventually settled.

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With some strong hands all the way down the court, they eventually pegged back the difference .

Tammy Thornley and Riley Culnane tightened their defensive pressure and Busselton led 11-9 at quarter-time. The Bulldogs rested Hubber while Sarah Leitch came off the bench into centre, with their opponents unchanged.

Bunbury appeared to falter with this change and lost flow through the centre court while at the other end, Bratton and Brooke Gibson dominated in the goal circle.

Anderson was the dominant goal threat for Bunbury with good movement and accurate shooting, but some bad passing around the goal circle too often handed the ball back to the Magpies.

Busselton responded by moving the ball through attack with Taneika Handley and Ashlee Ritson a strong combination who fed straight into the goal circle.

The Magpies led 28-18 at the main break, which resulted in the Bulldogs making substantial changes.

In turn, Busselton introduced Emma Borinelli into the goal circle with Bratton.

In an unusual move, Bunbury shifted Anderson out to the wing and Cass Shine into goals with Slater while Hubber came back into centre.

With the Magpies defensive line unchanged, their teamwork was unbeatable, with Harmony Sutherland at wing defence stepping up and having a great quarter, along with Culnane and Thornley.

Slater, who had moved out to goal attack, used her speed to work into the goal circle and shot with accuracy.

The third quarter went goal for goal, with Amy Hammond in defence for the Bulldogs working hard for her team but the Magpies were not going to be denied a back- to-back premiership and led by 12 going to the last quarter.

Bunbury sent Anderson back into the shooting circle with Shine but the defensive pressure, which the Magpies had implemented down the court, forced the Bulldogs into making silly passing mistakes.

Bratton set the standard for strong, determined play and dominated for her team in attack while Culnane was awarded grand final MVP.

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