Despite a slow start and a first quarter deficit for Souths, the Lions roared back to a 43-33 win over BNC Whanau to confirm their second place finish in the Greater Open Championship.
The match had major repercussions for both teams, as Whanau looked to put pressure on Souths’ second seed, as well as a chance for revenge for the Lions after their two goal defeat in round 6.
Guided in part by a recovering defence in the final three quarters of the match – made up of Tianna Cummings and Georgia McVey early on – the Lions were able to ward off BNC’s challenge to net a 10 goal advantage.
A huge fourth quarter for the grand final hopefuls was the cornerstone of their victory, as they separated a one-goal margin at third quarter time to the eventual ten it finished as with a 15 goal to four run.
The defeat for BNC also drops them to fourth place in the Championship with a week left to play, but with both Whanau and Forsythes – now third – on 34 points it leaves Nova too far gone to challenge for a playoff berth.
Forsythes’ 42-29 win over Nova was the catalyst for their shift into third place, with Traci Baber’s outfit looking to promoted shooter Sally Jenkins and goal attack Bronte Magin to lead the squad’s offense.
The move to put Jenkins in the starting lineup for star shooter Sabina Gomboso (returning next week) paid off as Baber’s team locked their spot in the minor semi-final, and now the squad turn their eyes to playoffs.
“I think we’ve been building to this for the last four or five weeks, and our injuries and absences have made it difficult,” Baber explained.
“When we have our full squad everyone plays really well and I think we’re going to be able to take that into a good run in the finals.
“Jenkins returned from her own injury recently and she did great in her very first game in the Greater Open. She’s looking good, and she definitely will get a look in when we fill the squad for next season. There’s scope for girls to come up for sure.”
Elsewhere in the Championship, Wests confirmed their undefeated run with a 75-24 win over Souths Pride – which all but confirms Pride will finish the season in last place – while Maryville Tavern notched a 39-32 win over West Leagues Balance 2 and is now guaranteed to place sixth in 2018.
TABLE: Wests 1 (44), Lions (38), Forsythes, BNC (34), Nova (30), Maryville (26), Wests 2 (22), Pride (19).