STANHOPE’S grand final hopes came to a devastating close after Tallygaroopna served the Lions a beating in the netball semi-final on the weekend.
Having defeated the Redlegs just two weeks before in a closely contested home-and-away round, a noticeably diminished Stanhope A grade side were outclassed in Sunday’s game.
With Tallygaroopna dominant from the first whistle, the Lions fought back but could not close the margin, with a final score of 47-31.
Stanhope coach Kerrie Gray said it was a disappointing way to close the season.
“We’re really shattered we didn’t play the brand of netball we wanted to and we’re bitterly disappointed to go out in this manner,” she said.
“To be beaten when you play your best netball is OK, you deal with it. But ending on this low note is so much tougher.”
Gray said there was no doubt Tally put in a superior performance on the day.
“To their credit, they were the better team on the weekend. They were vigilant at stopping us from reaching that next level of playing we’ve been reaching in the past few weeks,” she said.
“We struggled all day to find the gear we needed to be in.”
The game still featured top performances from Stanhope players, with Jenna Oliver outstanding in defence, Jamison Vick working hard in the attack end and Rhylee Kruger consistent through the midcourt.
It was a slow start to the season for Stanhope, with five straight losses in the early rounds.
However, the Lions achieved a stunning turnaround, surging back to claim eight straight victories and resurrecting their finals hopes.
“It’s been a season full of peaks and troughs, but I’ve been so proud with the girls’ performance in the latter half of the season. We really took it to the next level,” she said.
“I think we’ve come a long way after struggling early on. There’s been a lot of growth for our girls from where we started to where we finished.
“Unfortunately it’s been a bit tainted by the way we bowed out this year. But we can only look to next year now and hope for the best.”