COBDEN has booked itself a chance to win a maiden Hampden netball league open premiership following a gritty two goal semi-final victory over Warrnambool on Saturday.
The Bombers, who finished the year as minor premiers, progressed to the September 21 decider with a 44-42 triumph at Mortlake’s D.C. Farran Oval.
Coach Mel Starr said the victory was “definitely a box ticked” for her group, with the side now a chance to redeem themselves with a premiership after losing last year’s grand final to Koroit.
“It just shows the improvement by the girls on last year and that’s what we have always wanted to do, is just keep on improving,” she said.
“Fingers crossed we can now come away with a win in two weeks time.”
The semi-final went anything but to script for the Bombers early, who lost attacker Molly Hutt to injury in the first quarter.
Her departure from the game caused a reshuffle of positions for Cobden, disrupting their momentum as Warrnambool capitalised on their opportunities.
The Blues opened up a 14-11 lead at quarter time but the Bombers hit back in the second term, shooting 13 goals to nine to edge a goal clear at half time.
The third quarter was a close affair as both sides went goal-for-goal throughout the period, with Cobden slightly shading the Blues late to take a two goal lead into the last quarter.
Once again little separated the two clubs throughout the final stanza, with Cobden doing enough to record a narrow victory.
Starr said Hutt was expected to be available for the grand final despite missing the rest of the game.
“Warrnambool got the jump on us early and I think the injury to Molly had a lot to do with that,” she said.
“The injury caused us to change our line-up and that always throws your momentum a bit and mistakes start to occur.
“It took us a bit of time to settle (after Molly’s injury) but once we did we were able to come away with a good win.”
Starr said the Blues made sure the Bombers were forced to earn every possession and every goal in their victory.
She said she was pleased to see her side grit its teeth and find a way to win under their pressure.
“It was a very physical contest and Warrnambool are one of those teams that never lie down,” she said.
“We just had to try and maintain possession and grind it out and I think the girls showed great resilience to maintain their composure and hang on.”
Starr praised Nadine McNamara for her performance on Saturday, with the former Bombers’ leader recovering from a foot injury sustained in the final home and away round to produce a best on court performance.
She said Emily Finch was also influential in attack, while Amy Hammond provided plenty of drive through the mid court.
The Bombers will now enjoy a week’s break as they await the grand final, with the side to keep preparations as normal other than an extra training session this weekend.