Tarrawingee too good for All Blacks in final showdown

By Meg Saultry

Heading into a preliminary final against minor premier Tarrawingee at the weekend, the Benalla All Blacks' B-grade netball team was no doubt the underdog.

And unfortunately it just wasn't its day, falling 16 goals short, with a well-oiled Tarra machine too hard to stop in the end.

“Look it was really tough,” Benalla coach Rebecca Mathieson said.

“We didn’t play well, but I don’t think (Tarra) let us play well."

Mathieson credited Tarrawingee’s defensive pressure as one of the competition’s best and said it was almost impenetrable.

“And we didn’t shoot overall well too which doesn’t help," she said.

“But we had a crack, unfortunately it was 16 goals. We’ll go again next year.”

Down at quarter-time, the All Blacks rallied early in the second term to get the score back within a goal, however, couldn't maintain their momentum and soon trailed by six at half-time.

And it was the third quarter that proved deadly to the All Blacks' chance, with Tarrawingee punishing its rivals by scoring on turnover opportunities where the All Blacks couldn't, pushing the margin out to 12 at three-quarter time.

Despite the All Blacks' best efforts, the damage was done, with Tarrawingee running away with the win in the final 15 minutes.

Among Benalla's best was defender Elyse Felstead, while Brooke Bradshaw was key to the All Blacks' attack, in the ring and when moving the ball down the court.

“(Elyse) has great ability to read the play and was able to turn the ball over," Mathieson said.

"We just couldn’t convert it.

"Her height in ring and her tips, when falling right, were obviously vital for us. 

“And Brooke worked hard all day, both in and out of the ring.

"The weather conditions made converting hard, but it was her work-rate outside the ring."

In a season where B-grade made it all the way to the final three teams, Mathieson said, while the final result was disappointing, the progress the All Blacks had made this season was a major positive for the club.

“We had a similar team to last year and we’ve gone a step further,” she said.

“It was a positive outcome for the year, we just hit a side who were way too good and it wasn’t our day.”