By Michael Roberts | posted on September 19, 2020
NARRIKUP have won through to the A1 Albany Netball Association Grand Final with a stunning upset victory over minor premiers Royals Saints on Tuesday night.
There were emotional scenes at the final whistle, with Narrikup’s players running towards each other for a group hug in the middle of the court.
The 51-39 triumph sets up a winner-takes-all grand final against Railways on Saturday.
After going out in straight sets in 2019, Narrikup looked hell-bent on making this year’s decider.
In a physical contest, the underdogs jumped out of the blocks in the first quarter to take a 14-9 lead over Royals, who looked down on confidence coming off a semi-final loss to Railways four days earlier.
Kristie Slater, the Michelle Parsons A1 Fairest and Best winner, was dominating in the mid-field for Narrikup, while forwards Casey Greay and Sheridan Kowald were looking dangerous up front.
Royals started to find some touch in the second quarter, but still trailed by six goals at the main break.
With Nardia Humphries not having her usual impact up forward for Royals, they struggled to peg back their deficit in the third and trailed by nine goals heading into the last quarter.
Narrikup’s energy out on the court went unmatched as they ran away the game to record a with 12-goal victory.
After winning last year’s A1 premiership and finishing the regular 2020 season on top of the ladder, Royals’ finals campaign ended in successive losses.
Speaking to the Weekender after the final whistle, Narrikup coach Lisa O’Farrell said she felt her team had a lot of momentum heading into Saturday’s grand final.
“Beating Grammar by 20 in the semi-final was a big boost coming into tonight,” she said.
“It was a hard-fought game out there. It’s one of the most physical games we’ve had in a few weeks.
“Everyone stood up, every player did their bit. There were some really big hits out there.
“We are pretty excited. It’s always good when you beat Royals.”
With only a four-day break between games, O’Farrell said Narrikup would focus on recovery.
“With the injuries we’ve had in the second half of the season, it’s about making sure everyone is up and ready to go,” she said.
ANA GRAND FINAL FIXTURES
Railways v Narrikup
Saturday 1pm – A1 – Albany Leisure and Aquatic Centre
Narrikup v Bullets
Saturday 3.30pm – A2 – Albany Leisure and Aquatic Centre