Netball Central coach Yvette McCausland-Durie was proud of her charges, finishing runners-up in the inaugural Beko Netball League.
Winning five games on the road to the Grand Final, Central fell at the final hurdle, toppled by Netball South, 51-46 in a tight contest on Sunday night.
“They’re a very young side and somewhat raw, so to see them actually harness their talent and create a game plan and stick with it was really exciting to see,” McCausland-Durie said.
“It was unfortunate not to be able to finish it off, but certainly South were strong and showed a lot more experience and that’s something that this day in itself will add value for these players.
“I thought South were a lot smarter, they showed a lot more experience at times and kept their head in those real critical moments, whereas we got a little bit rushed and turned ball over.
“We fought back and that’s probably more a sign of the team’s resilience and fitness.”
The resilience McCausland-Durie refers to was seen right across the court.
“Sheridan [Bignall], our captain, really stepped up in taking the captaincy role and particularly as a centre; the workload was high and she had a lot of young people around her,” she said.
“Also, Karin Burger in our defence end has really challenged individuals at different times and created a lot of work and opportunities through that end.
“I spoke to all of them individually the morning of the Grand Final and for each of them I could rattle off plenty of amazing things I’ve seen in their growth.
“That’s why you do it – that’s why you coach, to get a shift. And if you can get outcomes it’s great, but they’re better people and they’re better performers for this opportunity.”
McCausland-Durie believes the Beko Netball League has exceeded expectations in its first year, with the biggest shift being in conditioning.
“Certainly in its first year, for all of us it has probably exceeded the initial expectations,” McCausland-Durie said.
“I think we’ve seen a big shift and lift in conditioning. Conditioning has really underpinned their ability to sustain performances in a tough, 60-minute match.
“The league has been amazing not just for players, but for coaches, managers and umpires alike.”