Kowald inspires Narrikup victory

By Michael Roberts | posted on September 28, 2020

NARRIKUP have tasted A1 Albany Netball Association championship glory for the first time since 2012, leading from start to finish in a high-intensity grand final encounter on Saturday afternoon.

Sheridan Kowald was the hero for Narrikup in her team’s 10-goal victory, taking home the Lucille Holt trophy as the best player of the day.

Coming off an 11-goal win over minor premiers Royals Saints four days earlier, Narrikup looked full of energy and determination from the outset as they took a four-point lead at quarter time.

After a nervy start to the game from both sides, Narrikup settled the better of the two teams, with Railways struggling to capitalise on their possession.

Despite the best efforts of Tigers defenders Hollee Siviour and Kiera Stephen, Kowald looked untouchable out on the court as she nailed shots from every angle.

It was much of the same in the second quarter, with Narrikup outscoring Railways by three goals to extend the lead to seven.

Casey Greay was playing an important support act to Kowald upfront, while Darcy Kerr was making crucial intercepts in defence.

At half-time Railways needed a lift, but couldn’t find a spark as Narrikup put their opponents to the sword.

Kowald was unstoppable as she scored goal-after-goal in the third quarter to take the margin to a game-high 15-points in the third term.

Appearing in the club’s first A1 grand final, Railways could have easily given up in the final quarter, but to their credit battled it out to the end.

Narrikup were the more clinical in front of goal when it mattered most, with jubilant scenes erupting at the final whistle as the day’s underdogs secured a 44-34 triumph and their first A1 championship in eight years.

Speaking to the Weekender immediately after the game, Narrikup Coach Lisa O’Farrell said it was an amazing result for the club.

“We had nine teams through to the grand final and we won seven of them, so that’s an awesome thing to happen for our club,” she said.

“It hasn’t happened for a long time, we are normally lucky if we get one or two through.

“It’s an awesome effort. The girls wanted it – they dug deep.”

O’Farrell said Kowald, who returned from injury late in the season, was the difference between the two teams.

“We didn’t know if she would get back to playing this year,” she said.

“We brought her back very slowly.

Last time we lost to Railways we didn’t have Sheridan on the court. It made a really big difference today.”

After going out in straight sets in last year’s finals series, Narrikup Captain Kristie Slater said she felt incredibly relieved at the final whistle.

“To lose like we did last year hurt,” she said.

“We didn’t have a strong start to the season, but we knew we had the team to do it.

“We felt like we had momentum going into this final. The 20-goal win against Grammar I felt that was the best we’ve played as a team and coming into Tuesday night we knew Royals were on the back foot.

“All of our players played an important role today. I think our defensive pressure is what won us the game.”