Bears hunt finals action

August 01, 2017

Shepparton brought down Echuca by seven points in the semi-final of the Northern Country Women’s League. Pictured is Shepparton’s Wendy Ludeman laying a firm tackle on Echuca’s Brittany Allman.

Shepparton's Wendy Ludeman protects the ball despite three Echuca players surging at her.

Echuca's Kiara Cooper runs full steam ahead as she tries to bypass Shepparton's Rebecca Bowles.

Shepparton's Katie Lewis gets a kick away while under pressure from Echuca.

Shepparton is one step away from a grand final appearance in the Northern Country Women’s League after sticking out an intense semi-final against Echuca.

The Bears hosted the Murray Bombers at Mooroopna Recreation Reserve on Sunday, heading into the game with confidence having defeated their opposition twice during the regular season.

Holding up under the pressure of finals, Shepparton clinched the game by seven points, with media co-ordinator and player Mel Weston saying the team was conscious of Echuca’s strengths.

‘‘I think that we were very aware that in a way — outside of Bendigo Thunder — in the majority of the rest of the league any team on any given day the result could go any way,’’ she said.

‘‘We didn’t want it to be our last game of the year and I don’t think that we were overconfident but knew we could win.’’

Shepparton worked its way to be a goal ahead by the first break, in a crucial gap for the day given the final margin.

Cara Briggs was seemingly a part of all the action for the Bears, a clear best on field as the talented sportswoman transferred her skills as a tennis player onto the football field for the first time last year.

‘‘She played really well, it was easily her best game of the season,’’ Weston said.

‘‘She’s been improving a lot over the course of the season with the extra coaching direction and finding herself in the right position.’’

Reigning best and fairest winner Breanna Davison was the team’s top scorer with three majors, as Rebecca Bowles and Wendy Ludeman each contributed a goal.

At the final break Shepparton led by just seven points and Weston said the side needed to continue the form it had already shown.

‘‘We acknowledged a few things we needed to work on, we’d produced an all round tight consistent game throughout but we needed to continue to try and be first at the ball in attack and be desperate and make them earn the ball — and we followed that right the way through,’’ she said.

In an even fourth term, both sides put 1.1 onto the scoreboard, eliminating Echuca from the inaugural NCWL finals series.

An away match to Benalla now awaits the Bears, following the Saints’ anticipated defeat at the hands of the mighty Bendigo Thunder which booked a home grand final in the process of taking its thumping 83-point victory.

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