Waratahs repelled a late barrage from Services on Sunday to earn a shot at a third straight Tamworth women’s first grade title.
Two quick second half goals propelled the premiers into the decider as they hung on to win a pulsating preliminary final 3-2.
“It was a game that ebbed and flowed,” Waratahs coach Graeme McKenzie said.
“I think Services dominated the first half. They had more penalty corners and more shots on goal.”
“Lara (Taggart) played very well in goals and made some crucial saves.”
The result was a 1-all scoreline at half-time.
Both sides had opportunities to break the deadlock before Bianca Pieper hooked the ball into the net to put Waratahs ahead with just under 12 minutes to go.
“It was a really determined effort. That just typifies her,” McKenzie said.
A minute later captain Katrina Rekunow made it 3-1.
Their season on the line Services lifted their intensity, and with the clock ticking down to four minutes coach Kimmy McLean blasted the ball past the Waratahs defence from a corner variation. The final minutes were pretty much all Services but they couldn’t muster an equaliser.
“The last 10 minutes they had us under the pump,” McKenzie said.
“We weren’t clever enough to get the ball out of defence and retain possession.”
While a big improvement on their major semi-final against Flames, he said they were at times guilty of taking Services on in their area of strength, which led to turnovers. They procured a few themselves though with Rekunow and Abigail Doolan especially making some crucial interceptions.
Chasing their first grand final appearance for a few years, McLean was lamenting her sides inability to convert their chances. That was the difference in her view.
“The whole game we had so many opportunities.
“Their goalie did play really well,” she said.
She said it was still a great effort from her side and was particularly happy with their press.
“We made a point that when one of their midfielders got the ball we wanted someone there straight away,” she said.
McLean also noted the fight they showed, not that that came as any surprise.
“One of the things the girls do well is they don’t drop their heads. They say lets go at them again,” she said.