CHAOS OVER NETBALL FINAL
The Sunday Age
ADELAIDE Contax finally claimed the major interstate prize it has sought for so long with a controversial 61-58 overtime win over hometown rival Adelaide Garville in last night’s netball Superleague grand final at the Powerhouse. While Garville officials believe a scoring discrepancy had robbed them of a one-goal victory, the official score sheet had scores tied at 47- 47 after regular time, and play was extended for 14 minutes.
Garville coach Pat Mickan said the team would lodge a protest but had been told already that the result would stand. “We believe in our hearts in the fact that we won the game,” she said. Garville captain Michelle Fielke refused to sign the scorecard.
Garville, the defending champion, grabbed the early overtime break and held a two-goal lead at the final change of ends, Contax having lost goal attack Tania Obst two minutes earlier with a leg injury. But Contax lost nothing with the substitution of regular feeder Sarah Angove who failed to score a goal but, more importantly, channeled the ball to champion import Vicki Wilson.
Wilson’s battle with Fielke, Australia’s captain, was one of the high points of an absorbing and physical match, which ended with emotional scenes and a crowd invasion of the court. It has taken Wilson nearly a decade as one of the netball world’s leading shooters to finally break through for a major domestic win. She had to leave her home state of Queensland to do it, but was the key player in last night’s triumph.
Despite missing the final shot for goal in regular time, Wilson scored a match-high 45 goals at 76 per cent under fierce pressure, including the last three of the match. If the missing ingredient for Contax has been a class shooter, then this has proven to be an inspired recruiting choice.
Yet Garville was also a gallant runner-up and worthy finalist. Shooters Jenny Borlase (35 goals at 77 per cent) and Natalie Avellino (23 goals at 74 per cent) were an exceptional combination at the other end, while the mid-court match-ups were typically tight between these two regular and fierce foes.
It will be a pity if such a fine and desperate exhibition of netball is soured by a scoring controversy but many in the stadium were bewildered when the scoreboard was amended five minutes into the last quarter from a 42-40 Garville lead to 41 goals each.