Proud in defeat

Monique Nagle puts up a shot. (Robyn Bewley/supplied)

Tara Murray

Darley didn’t walk away with a Ballarat Netball League premiership on Saturday, but the club still walks away from the season as winners.

The club’s A-grade and under-19 teams both made it through the final game of the year, the first time the club has had a team in the grand final since 1992.

In wet, tough conditions, North Ballarat was able to get over the line in both of the deciders to continue their strong record.

For Devils coach Di McCormack the results this season show that the club is headed in the right direction.

“There’s a real buzz around the club,” she said. “The under-19s are pretty devastated, but they played against a side that had three players then play A-grade.

“There’s a lot of good talent in the side and it’s good for the future. Lucy Taylor won the B-grade best and fairest and Kaylee Smith was runners up. and Addison Wright won the C-grade best and fairest and the under-17 best and fairest.

“There’s more talent coming through the juniors. We blooded a few girls in the C-grade and D-grade late in the season.

“The girls who came across from Rupertswood feel like part of the Darley family and it’s helping attract locals to come and play.”

In the A-grade final, McCormack said they were beaten by a better team on the day. She said North Ballarat handled the wet conditions better in the 47-34 win.

“We didn’t play well enough in the wet,” she said.

“North Ballarat said they were used to playing in that weather. We haven’t played a game in the wet all season.

“We weren’t good enough on the day.”

The Devils suffered a blow midweek with captain Monique Nagle rolling her ankle on Tuesday night.

While she took to the court in the grand final, she didn’t have her usual influence. Midcourter Prue Stanley was also playing with a torn meniscus in her knee.

The Devils were put under pressure early and North Ballarat opened up a lead, before bringing in back to one goal. The margin would be three at the first break.

The second quarter would set up the win for North Ballarat, out scoring the Devils, 16-8.

McCormack said her defenders were able to create the amount of turnover they normally would.

“In the circle to rely on leg speed to turn the ball over a lot,” she said.

“In the wet that didn’t work. They were a bit more experienced in these conditions and they were getting to the ball quicker than we were.”

McCormack made a number of changes at half time and in the second half to try and find the right connections.

Shannon Blackman moved from wing defence into centre as they tried to find a bit more drive. McCormack said Blackman was clearly their best on the day.

Tarni Lopes came into wing defence and did a good job. In a bit of history for the club, Lopes’ mum Angela Lopes played in the Devils last netball premiership in 1992.

McCormack also made moves in the attacking end.

“They double teamed Becca [Hicks] pretty hard,” McCormack said. “I brought Keely Boudrie on to make the defenders have to make a decision in the ring.”

The lead stayed at nine heading into the last quarter. The Devils got it back to seven, but couldn’t get enough ball back and it blew out late.

North Ballarat’s Maddy Selmon was named best on court. McCormack said she was clearly the best player on the court.

In the under-19s, the game went down to the wire, with North Ballarat winning 24-23

McCormack said they had a penalty shot for goal with about a minute to go, but didn’t get to shoot it when the umpire called shot taken.

Had they scored it would have levelled the scores with their centre pass to come.

Addison Wright was named best on court.

McCormack said she was so proud of that group, many who still have another three to four years in that age group.