While Arrows took the silverware, Northern Hawks captain Ashton Whiley said her side could take an equally valuable commodity from Saturday’s Tasmanian Netball League grand final.
“Belief,” Whiley said after her team’s 67-56 loss at the Silverdome.
“When we started the season I think we knew we were good enough to win but didn’t believe it, but now going into next season we know we are up there with the best and can do it so it’s going to be a huge season.”
While the team’s 21-year premiership drought continues, the hard-working centre said the spirit in the side suggested a title would not be far away.
“It’s disappointing but everyone’s jovial because they know we gave it our all and so it’s actually quite exciting at the moment.
“We’re all friends off the court so it’s more like playing with a friendship group rather than a netball team. It’s a lot different to any other team I’ve ever played for. We’ve all got each other’s backs and it’s a great team to be a part of, it’s awesome.”
Just a fortnight after ending Arrows’ 64-game winning streak by two goals in the semi-final, the Hawks were unable to back it up as the Hobart outfit stormed to its third straight premiership.
Tasmania’s longest running state league celebrated its 30th year at a well-attended and rocking Silverdome.
Inevitably, Hawks fans were more numerous but a sizable and vocal Arrows contingent had made their way north and were ultimately destined to an enjoyable trip home.
A frenetic and frequently physical first half saw neither team able to establish a substantial lead.
With goal shooter Ashlea Mawer unflappable (45 goals from 48 attempts), Whiley ever industrious through the midcourt and goal defence Dannielle Devlin inventive, Hawks were three up for much of the second term before Arrows fired back to take a 32-30 lead into the major break.
Inspired by formidable goal shooter Sophie Gunn, who lived up to her name by barely missing a catch or shot all night, Arrows put in a big third quarter. Their lead stretched out to seven before being pegged back to 50-44 at the final break.
Player of the match Kate Marr maintained the exemplary service which allowed Gunn to take her tally to 59 goals at 83 per cent and the visitors to finish up with their biggest margin of 11.
Hawks coach Ruth Tuohy addressed a tearful but proud group post-match.
“I told them it was OK to be disappointed,” she said. “We were happy with how we didn’t let the game blow out and kept pushing to the very end.
“If we take what we’ve achieved this season, we’re pretty happy. It is disappointing with the outcome but the girls worked hard and I don’t think left much out there and full credit to Arrows, they’re a great side and have been for many years.
“We made a few errors when we were transitioning down and they capitalised on those. We had some great opportunities but didn’t always value the ball.
“We can take heaps of positives out of this.
“We have had some major achievements this year and taken a massive step forward for the club. If we reflect on how we went last year, to have this game so close and have the final two weeks ago and get to here first, we’re going to take all of that, learn again and come back even hungrier.”
Tuohy said two Hawks in particular caught her eye.
“I thought Danny Devlin applied pressure all the way through and gave us some crucial turns at times when we needed it and I think Danielle Pickett was controlling it up the attacking end working it into the circle.”
Arrows captain Hayley Sansom spared a thought for Hawks in her victory speech, telling them: “You guys played your hearts out and put the most pressure on us in a couple of years. Thanks for a great game.”
Kingston defeated Arrows 59-47 in the 19-and-under grand final.