FLAMES produced when it mattered, toppling minor premiers Services yesterday to book their spot in the Tamworth women’s first grade grand final.
Services will now battle it out with Telstra Store Olympians for the other spot in the decider after Flames out-gunned them 3-1.
Olympians had earlier knocked out Waratahs with the same scoreline in the minor semi-final.
They scored twice inside the last five minutes to take the honours after extra-time had been looking a possibility at
Flames and Services were also locked at 1-1 for a fair while.
Michelle Aslin had put Services 1-up with around 20 minutes to go after a good transfer from the right found her floating out on the left.
Her initial shot was saved by Flames keeper Lisa Christensen, but Aslin worked her way to the other side of the circle and picked up the spoils.
They held the lead until just under five minutes to go when a steal from Maddie Doyle found Services understaffed in defence.
She ran the ball to the top of the circle then off-loaded to Caitlin McHugh and she did the rest to make it 1-all at the break. It remained that way deep into the second half.
The break came when Libby McHugh cracked the ball towards goal and it came off a sliding Services keeper Michelle Collins’ pads to go in and put Flames in front for the first time in the game with just under 10 minutes remaining.
Kimberley Resch then made sure of the win slotting the ball high into the back of the net after a surging run from Mel Allen from defence into attack.
Flames coach Adam Straub was very happy with what he saw from his side.
“It was definitely our best game of the year,” Straub said.
It was a lot more precise and the effort was there for the whole game.
“The effort and intensity in the first half and second half was outstanding,” Straub said.
Their attack inside their 25 was also a lot more accurate and they profited from that.
“Our options were better,” Straub said.
“We forced some short corners and built up some structure in attack in our 25.”
Particularly the last 15-20 they were able to really open the game up and push Services wide. “The first half we played well but we were giving them too much room in the centre of the field,” Straub said.
“In the second half we matched them and cut their midfield out and that won the game for us.”
Their scrambling defence in the circle was also great, with Allen and Helena Williamson coming up with several important touches.
Resch also made several incisive runs.
Services coach Andrew Davy had said before it would be the team that made the most of their chances that would win.
Yesterday that wasn’t them.
“We didn’t make the most of the opportunities we had.
“We had enough,” he said.
They created a lot of chances, and stretched over the game would have had as many if not more than Flames.
But apart from Aslin’s goal they couldn’t put the ball in the back of the net from the field or penalty corner situation.
“We just needed to be a bit smarter,” Davy said.
“We probably were a bit too direct at times.
“We needed to make one more pass at times and didn’t.”
There was still a lot of good points in their game.
Kate Perrett was good at the back along with Collins, Aslin, Kimmy Hill, Shelley Stevenson and Ash Ninness.
In final round men’s action Kiwis beat Tudor West 3-1 and Services Workies pummelled South United 13-1.