IT was not the conclusion to the Kowree Naracoorte Tatiara netball season Penola’s A Reserves were hoping for, as the Eagles went down to a strong Keith outfit on Saturday.
Despite the home-court advantage, the minor premiers trailed for much of the match, after a strong second quarter from the Crows set up a lead they would not give up.
At the first change the game was in the balance and Penola was behind by a single goal, but by the main break Keith held a seven-goal advantage.
Penola coach Karly Honner said the margin remained around that mark for much of the game, as the Crows held the Eagles at arms length.
“As expected, Keith was very strong and they applied a zone we were not used to, so we had trouble getting it out of defence,” she said.
“They gained momentum (in the second quarter) and we had a few troubles through the mid-court which they capitalised on.
“We sort of trailed by six goals for nearly the whole game.”
Down by five heading into the final term, Penola managed a late dash to narrow the margin to three goals, but it was not enough to defeat a polished Keith outfit.
Penola goal shooter Ashley Earl had the best shooting percentage for the game, converting at 75pc from the post.
However, with the Crows having 10 more scoring attempts than the Eagles, it was always going to be a tough day for the hosts.
“We had plenty of opportunities, but it was just really hard to get it through the mid-court,” Honner said.
“Throughout the whole game we made lots of silly mistakes that we do not normally do.
“Keith are very deserving winners and they played well.
“The best-on-court (Alexa Schreiber), she was absolutely brilliant and she just killed it.”
Honner said there was plenty of opportunity in the third quarter for a turnaround, but a couple of missed key shots prevented Penola from gaining a foothold.
With Adelaide umpires down for the grand final matches, Honner said her team also struggled to adapt to the different officials.
“Throughout the game there was probably 10 stepping calls, which at A Reserve standard is crazy,” she said.
With the Crows passing around to “kill the clock” in the late stages of the game, Penola was able to take advantage and push to within three goals, but could not narrow the margin further.
Schreiber was named best-on-court for her damaging efforts on the wing attack, while Honner said Chloe Long was solid for the Eagles, providing some crucial intercepts in the third quarter.
“We still did play really well, but at the end of the day we just were not good enough,” Honner said.
Penola’s A Reserves will now return to the drawing board and hope for third time lucky in 2020.
“It is two (grand finals) in a row I have lost now,” Honner said.
“A few of the girls will be hanging around and we definitely know we have the team to win.
“I think there will be a few changes around the club next year, but we will still have a really strong A and A Reserves.
“We will definitely be going for third time lucky.”