Launceston's two derby clubs put on not only a State League grand final rematch for the ages, but worthy of waiting the 11 months.
On a surreal occasion where most of the Silverdome's stands were empty under strict social distancing rules, it was hard to believe the netballers had not played in competition since days ahead of their anticipated clash in March that was called off just hours before.
But it was one of the rare blemishes that stood out after Cavaliers coach Dan Roden pointed to three failed goal feeds in a row that effectively led to a six-goal turnaround and handed the reigning premiers the 70-66 loss on Saturday to the Northern Hawks.
Cavaliers were up by one after the teams had traded goals 13 times to start the final quarter before the Hawks scored four straight goals to never again surrender the lead.
"Essentially, that did cost us the game. That two minutes of play changed the outcome for us. Hats off to them because I just felt like their attack end finished off," Roden said.
Cavaliers initially blew the Hawks off the court in the opening term to lead 22-13 that included 19 of the last 29 goals to the break.
The advantage had blown out to 11 goals and the rematch early on looked just minutes away from heading in the one direction.
That sizeable margin was more than the eight goals the Hawks had on last year's start.
ELSEWHERE IN SPORT
"It was all about what the girls were thinking," Hawks co-coach Kellie Woolnough said.
"That's the point this year. They're thinking they're capable of coming back from that.
"They've worked very hard to make sure mentally we're on top of things, to be able to combat things like being down by 10. I don't think it was discussed at quarter-time at all."
But this time Cavaliers quickly succumbed to the rival's resiliency that drew the margin back to three goals at half-time.
The Hawks leaked goals to trail by seven, but drew level soon after on a 8-1 run before finally hitting the front in that final minute.
"I think the team structures was what held up - that they followed the team gameplan. They were pretty determined when they created opportunities," Woolnough said.
Cavaliers' defence was without departed the back three of Issy Maskell, Kate McLaughlin and Rachel Tempo and were no longer able to contain Ashlea Mawer (46 goals from 53 shots) and Danni Pickett (24 from 27).
Mel Philpott was curtailed late by 18-year-old Hannah Lenthall in spite of 54 from 65.
"I just felt that the game ebbed and flowed through much of the four quarters; either team could have won that game," Roden said.
"At the end of the day, the Hawks' polish especially in their front end and probably our lack of ability to slow the ball going into the circle from a defensive perspective hurt us."
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