‘Hunger’ the deciding factor in entertaining, hard-fought all-Lions preliminary battle | Photos

Hunger.

That’s what Lions coach Cindy Gilchrist highlighted as the deciding factor in Saturday’s Orange Netball Association Toyota Cup preliminary final, which Orange City Craig Harvey Mechanical won over their clubmates Newey’s Drive-Thru Cleaners.

It’s tough to argue that too.

The two sides were split evenly at the beginning of this season and were evenly-matched all year, both picking up a win over the other, but the former flourished on the big stage last weekend and scored a 15-goal win.

Experience in key positions played its part in the 55-40 victory too of course, which Gilchrist acknowledged, with the likes of Tegan Dray and Sammie Spicer controlling their individual match-ups against their younger NDTC rivals.

But with CHM’s younger brigade bettering their NDTC counterparts for the most part too Gilchrist was adamant the former side simply “wanted it more”, spurred on by their defeat to Orange Physiotheraphy Vipers in the major semi-final the week before.

"[CHM] probably did have the benefit of a few older heads (in key positions) but I think it was hunger, they just wanted it more,” Gilchrist said, correctly adding the 15-goal scoreline wasn’t a reflection of the hard-fought nature of the affair.

Gilchrist, who helps mentor both sides, did admit the clash was somewhat bittersweet considering it ends NDTC’s strong 2018 campaign.

But, regardless, she couldn’t be prouder, saying the two outfit’s campaigns are a fair indication of the talent and culture at the club, and it’s inevitably bright future too.

“It would’ve been great to have both sides in the grand final but regardless of the score Orange City’s a winner, netball’s a winner… I don’t know, it is bittersweet in a way because the [NDTC] side have been incredible all season,” she said.

“When we selected the teams earlier in the year I panicked, I just panicked.

“I was worried, you know, how do you do it? How on earth do we take everybody and make them competitive, and have the right mix of experience and youth and make that work.

“But I think it did, and I’m really proud of all of them.”

Spicer and Dray actually dominated the clash from go to woah, the former combining with Vic Briscoe to stifle the NDTC shooters and the latter linking beautifully with Ellie Madden, in particular, in the mid-court.

In fact, despite Spicer and Dray’s excellent showings, Madden was arguably best on court as she switched between wing attack and wing defence throughout the four quarters, not putting a foot wrong in a huge performance.

All that helped push CHM to a five-goal lead at the first break despite an uncharacteristic start in the attacking circle, and extend that buffer to six by the main break.

Gun shooter Kristin Zinga actually had the first four shots of the game, all within 10 seconds of each, and missed all four.

Milly Wilcox picked up the fifth and final rebound and potted the shot to open the scoring, she accounted for CHM’s first eight goals before Zinga found her radar late in the first.

That rebounding ability was a massive factor as the clash wore on too.

While NDTC’s Katie Matthews and Caitlyn Harvey – both representative defenders – were strong and did everything they could, Wilcox and Zinga’s height advantage was telling in the circle as CHM pushed to a 14-goal lead at the final break.

NDTC pegged it back to nine at one stage in the fourth, but the now grand final-bound CHM side closed the game out with a flurry to win by 15.

Naturally in such an emotionally-charged clash that came after a gutting extra time loss, the prudent question is whether the CHM side has played its grand final a week early.

Gilchrist squashed that suggestion.

“Forget about that, we’ve played grand final-standard games the last two weeks, we’ve just got one more to go now, but it will be a different game. Our biggest task is resetting,” she said.

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