It was the end of the road for the Deni Rams’ A grade on Sunday, suffering a 29 goal defeat in their Murray Netball League preliminary final against reigning premier Moama.
In what was a replay of last year’s grand final, the Mowers proved far too strong for the Rams and after leading by nine goals at half time, the defending champions put on a dominant performance at Barooga.
While Moama will now move on to face Echuca United in the grand final, it’s season over for Deni.
Rams co-coach Jodie Sefton said her side’s opponent was simply ‘‘far too good across the court’’ in the do or die final.
‘‘We were beaten pretty much all across the court,’’ she said.
‘‘There was only a nine goal difference at half time but we decided to change things up to try and make inroads into the margin.
‘‘But Moama ran around us and played such a controlled and methodical game.
‘‘It certainly wasn’t our day and with the talent in Moama’s side we’d have to have been at our absolute best to overcome them.’’
While the task at hand was tough already, it was made much harder when star shooter Bec Biggs suffered an ankle injury in the early stages of the first quarter.
To her credit, Biggs battled on to play out the game, but was clearly restricted by her injury.
‘‘Bec’s effort to play certainly didn’t go unnoticed,’’ Sefton said.
‘‘While it was a tough day there were definitely some positives still coming out of the game.
‘‘Ella Harvey was a shining light for us in WA. She had two opponents during the game and beat both of them.
‘‘It was an incredible effort, particularly from someone who is 15 years-old.
‘‘Leah Blake had a great battle with her defender as well.
‘‘To have the younger players standing up in the heat of finals pressure is outstanding to see.
‘‘I’m certainly proud of the contribution that everyone has made this year, particularly to make a prelim despite the number of injuries.
‘‘We have a few girls who are off to have surgery in the off-season, but to have them turn up each week and battle through what they have is a tribute to their character.’’
Sunday saw the Rams compete in their fourth consecutive preliminary final.
While pleased with the efforts, Sefton said there was a clear gap between her side and the top three.
‘‘For us to compete with sides like Moama, Echuca and Rumbalara we’d need to got to the next level and try to recruit some top-line talent,’’ she said.
‘‘We’ve always had outstanding juniors that have been more than capable of playing A grade netball and we’ve always had a focus on homegrown talent, but it’s hard to compete with sides that have brought in strong players to their clubs.
‘‘It would also be good to see if we could get the standard of netball up across the league.
‘‘It makes it hard to prepare for finals when you go in after a few soft games and I’m sure the other clubs would agree.’’
Final score, Moama 56 to Deni Rams 27.
In true finals conditions the B grade Rams have booked their spot in the grand final.
Taking on minor premiers Mulwala at Barooga on Sunday, Deni took an early lead and held it for the first three quarters.
The Lions made a late charge and forced the game into a goal for goal situation for the last quarter.
Deni held strong despite the tough battle, scoring a thrilling one goal win.
Georgia Richards played a stellar game in goal keeper, a new positional change in the absence of Elle Parsons.
Georgia and Rachel Maher worked tirelessly in the defensive ring, constantly turning the ball over with countless intercepts and rebounds.
Amy Rodda was a force in attack, with accuracy and strong positional moves, she was a key target in the ring.
Final score, Deni Rams 38 to Mulwala 37.
The Rams will now travel up the Riverina Highway to Finley where they will take on Moama in the grand final.
The Under 15s Rams have kept their undefeated 2019 record in tact with a 14 goal win against Echuca United in a preliminary final at Katandra on Saturday.
Deni showcased their strongest first quarter to date with Sam Hughes feeding beautifully into the ring to Chloe Brown and Ellie Parks, who converted at every opportunity.
Through the middle Annie Harvey and Dakota Mitsch chased up every loose ball to help extend the Rams’ lead.
Macie Free and Jemma Smith worked tirelessly to get numerous turnovers before the ball got into Echuca’s attacking ring.
Chloe Way and Hannah Ford combined for their best game of the year in defence, playing with confidence.
Final score, Deni Rams 41 to Echuca Utd 27.
Awards: Ellie Parks, Chloe Way, Annie Harvey and Jemma Smith.
The Rams will meet Tongala, who finished second on the ladder, in the grand final this Saturday.
The Rams Under 13s fell agonisingly short of a grand final appearance, going down to Tongala by one goal on Saturday.
Deni started nervously against the reigning premiers and allowed the Blues an early six goal lead going into the first break.
The Rams’ defence worked tirelessly against some smooth moving accurate goalers but just could not rattle them.
By three quarter time the margin had grown to 10, however the determination and commitment from the Rams had been shown on many occasions throughout the season and this game was going to be no different.
At the break the girls were asked to enjoy the experience, smile and play their game, with the optimism still high.
Some wonderful midcourt passes, and strong holds from the Rams goalers in the early parts of the last quarter gave them the boost they needed.
Deni also displayed athletic defensive intercepts and hustle down the court to find themselves back in the hunt.
The confidence was high and the intensity lifted but unfortunately the Rams were a little short on time and went down in a gallant effort.
Final score, Tongala 41 to Deni Rams 40.