Giants take fifth spot ahead of Joeys

Geelong West Giants coach Jill Leader. (Facebook)

Matt Hewson

Geelong West Giants A grade netballers had a huge win against Bell Park on Saturday, positioning themselves well for a top five finish as the home and away series enters its final phase.

The Dragons battled hard as they tried to keep their own finals hopes alive, but the Giants put in a strong second-half performance to win 58-51 and overtake St Joseph’s and take fifth spot.

Giants coach Jill Leader said she was pleased with the way her side had clawed its way back into the ascendancy after falling behind early in the match.

“We were really happy because the last time we played Bell Park we ended up with a draw,” Leader said.

“I was really pleased with the fact that we stuck to our guns and our gameplan and played four consistent quarters, which meant we were able to get on top of them and come away with a good win in the end.”

Two turnovers in the first quarter gave Bell Park the opportunity to grab the lead, and the Dragons’ accuracy through the first half allowed them to maintain a one-goal lead at half time.

“Bell Park’s scoring efficiency was really high, so at half time I told the girls we need to keep doing what we’re doing, applying pressure and being ready for the turnovers,” Leader said.

“They couldn’t shoot 100 percent all game, so we had to be ready for the rebounds, ready for the opportunities. And we were; when we got those opportunities we made sure we scored on them.

“It was one of those games where we had to have our wits about us for the full 60 minutes. It was a great team effort and a fantastic game by both teams, a really high standard.”

Giants goal keeper Rachel Leader celebrated her 200th senior game with the club, which Leader said had inspired her side to dig deep and get the victory.

“Rachel had a really steady game, picking up all those rebounds and loose balls when we needed it, and the team really rallied around the fact that it was her 200th game,” she said.

“It’s a huge milestone within our club and I think it lifted us, we really wanted to get the win for Rachel. She’s been with the club since she was 11, so it was a big day.”

Leader also praised her attacking midcourt combination of centre Jessica Leader and wing attack Alahria Smith.

“The last time we played Bell Park their centre court had a bit of an edge on ours,” she said.

“This time we played a bit smarter, and Jessica and Alahria really controlled that attacking end of centre court.

“[Goal shooter] Aleisha McDonald and [goal attack] Rachel Palmer-Brennan were really good too, they shot at 88 percent for the game, which is incredible.”

The Giants now sit two points above sixth-placed St Joseph’s, who they’ll face this weekend in a season-defining match for both sides.

“It’s been close every time we’ve played Joeys in the past four or five years, so we’re expecting the same this week,” Leader said.

“They’re defensively very strong, Tori Honner in goal defence is the player you have to watch. She’s extremely talented and capable of turning a game around by herself.

“It’s an exciting end to the season, seeing so many competitive sides going for that top five. It’s a really healthy competition in A grade this year.”