ROBIN Hood shooter Erin Taylor showed a steady hand under pressure to guide her side past Royal Hawks on Saturday and into the Orange Netball Association division one grand final.
Taylor netted five of the game’s last six goals to see her side prevail 58-54 in a nerve-wracking preliminary final at Orange PCYC.
The State League representative’s late haul put paid to a spirited comeback by Hawks, who trailed by as many as 10 goals in the first half.
Digging deep, Hawks turned the tables to lead by two goals midway through the final term, and an upset looked on the cards.
But in the end the class and experience of five-times defending premiers Hood ensured they will face Life Studio in this weekend’s decider.
Hawks captain Amanda Rouse, though gutted to see her side’s season end one game shy of the grand final, was justifiably proud of their efforts on Saturday.
“Obviously it’s disappointing to lose and be knocked out, but I was stoked with the spirit we showed to stick it to them and make then earn it,” Rouse said.
“I was really impressed with our fightback.”
Rouse wouldn’t have been impressed with her charges’ start to the game, with Hood bolting to a 14-10 quarter-time lead.
That advantage was extended to seven goals at the main break and it seemed Hood’s combinations, especially that of Taylor and centre Tegan Dray, were too slick for Hawks.
But the underdogs recorded the first five goals of the third term and, with shooter Kirsten Zinga in fine form, set about assuming control.
Hood started the last quarter with a two-goal lead, but it was quickly wiped out as Zinga and goal attack Danielle Turner found their range.
The score moved to 51-all and then 53-all before Taylor grabbed the initiative and ensured her side’s passage to the season’s main event.
Rouse was full of praise for Hawks’ efforts in 2013.
“The improvement we’ve showed over the whole year has been fantastic,” she said.
“It’s only our second year in the competition and we’ve exceeded our own expectations.”
The skipper paid special tribute to wing attack Laura Kable, who was awarded the team’s coach’s Award, as well as defender Kellie Watson.
And Rouse’s tip for the grand final?
“You can flip a coin. I don’t know who will win, but it will be a ripper of a game.”