South Grafton High School vs Grafton High School in Daily Examiner senior netball preliminary rounds.
South Grafton High School vs Grafton High School in Daily Examiner senior netball preliminary rounds. Adam Hourigan

Let the upper river vs lower river battle commence

NETBALL: An action-packed day of netball culminated in a nail-biting wait to reveal the 2019 Daily Examiner Shield finalists.

Heading into the final game, there were three senior teams with a shot at making the final, with Maclean High in the box seat.

But a dominant performance from Grafton High in their final game led to a five-goal victory over their Lower Clarence opposition and with McAuley College taking care of South Grafton it led to an agonising wait with all three teams on two wins a piece.

After what seemed like an eternity the organisers ushered in the school representatives to deliver the news that Grafton High and Maclean would battle it out for the shield in the final, with only three goals separating second and third place. Grafton High and Maclean High also came out on top in the junior division and a series of dominant performances enabled the junior Maclean side to seal their place with a game to spare.

Grafton High Senior and Junior coach Julie Stringer said their senior team were a talented squad who played to their potential in two of the games but lost focus in game two to go down to McAuley.

"The Maclean game was a must win and the same seven played for the whole game,” she said.

"They played steady, sensible netball, backing each other up and looking for intercepts. They were taking their chances when they were there and were settling and making good use of the ball.”

Stringer was happy with the result but admitted she was a little relieved because the team were a quality side who deserved to make it.

"Most of them have been playing together in some way, shape or form, for Grafton High since year 7.” she said.

"We are defending the Daily Examiner senior competition and the last time it was played we won my one goal

"I expect the final against Maclean to be a tough and torrid game and it could go either way.”

Despite the final game wobble, Maclean High School had a lot to celebrate given the results and coach Kylie Lowe was very happy with how both teams had performed and looked forward to the finals next Tuesday.

"They played well. They all put in 110 per cent, I can't fault them, hopefully they can do it all again next week,” she said.

"We want to take home those trophies again, take them down river.”

Grafton Netball Association organiser Brooke Burton said closeness in the competitions had helped make the day a great success, with a significant amount of quality across each of the sides.

"As you can tell from the ladder there have been a number of close games and that is exactly what you want from a competition like this,” she said.

"And I think the two divisions has made for better competition with a higher quality of netball being played.

"It has made for a very close competition.”

Burton said the kids had all responded well to the competition and thought the teachers appreciated having some of the organisation being put on the shoulders of the netball association. "There has been a lot of positivity, school rivalry is the best rivalry ever,” she said.

"As I have said before, it makes best friends enemies on court and then they walk off the court they and become best friends again.