Big one decided in extra minutes

There were some new faces in the Orange Toyota Cup division one grand final but they didn’t disappoint.

CLOSE ENCOUNTER: Hood star Tegan Dray and Hawks gun Ash Bruton get up close during the grand final. Photo: JUDE KEOGH

CLOSE ENCOUNTER: Hood star Tegan Dray and Hawks gun Ash Bruton get up close during the grand final. Photo: JUDE KEOGH

The Royal Hawks came within a sniff of taking the club’s maiden crown on debut in the Orange Netball Association division one decider on Saturday.

The experience of eight-time defending champions Robin Hood came to the fore and they were able to win a ninth consecutive title with a tough 64-62 extra-time victory over Hawks.

Royal Hawks player-coach Amanda Hurford couldn’t fault her players.

“I said to the girls before we even got here, “You’re winners in my eyes. The worst we can do is runners-up and that’s not too bad at all.” And to go into extra-time against such a fantastic team, I’m super proud of the girls,” Hurford smiled.

The opening quarter was a little scrappy as both sides worked out the nerves.

Hawks made a great start in the second period to score four goals to Robin Hood’s one which levelled the game at 23-all by half-time.

Robin Hood was able to pull out to a three-goal lead after three quarters but Hawks reeled them back in the fourth period to lock the scores up at 49-all after regulation time.

The first seven-minute period of extra-time was stunning with all four shooters – Erin Johnstone and Millie Wilcox for Robin Hood, and Kristin Zinga and Alice Maier for Hawks – shooting at 100 per cent, however, Robin Hood had a slight 57-56 lead.

The final seven minutes were gripping as both sides traded blows. Bodies were put on the line and players excelled under the pressure.

In the end, the Robin Hood girls were able to come away with the 64-62 victory.

Robin Hood coach Cindy Gilchrist described her team’s victory as “the best win ever”.

Hurford said her side also put in a top performance just a week after an extra-time preliminary final win over Life Studio.

“We’ve had to, the last couple of weeks, give our A-game every single week,” Hurford explained. “They played out of their skin, we’ve left nothing in the bag.”

Ash Bruton played all four quarters at centre for Royal Hawks and was outstanding, especially as she had to contend with the phenomenal Robin Hood equivalent in Tegan Dray.

Lauren Williams produced another brilliant effort at wing defence for the winners while all the shooters and defenders ensured thrilling contests at each end.

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