By STEVE MENZIES
Rovers Complete Construction missed an opportunity to defeat reigning premier Federal Club Eastside in their KFC A-Grade netball clash at the Pat Gallagher Netball Centre on Friday night.
Federal were never headed in the entertaining game and ran out 44-42 winners.
But Rovers had nine more shots on the night. Its goals came at a conversion rate of 55.2% compared to 65.7% by Federal.
A star performer for Federal was Carly Ross, promoted up from the Federal Office National Angels in the A-Reserves to help cover the vast unavailabilities in the A-Grade team.
Ross shot a match-winning 31 goals at 72%.
“It was my first and hopefully my only A-Grade after playing for Angels for 10 years,” she said.
“I was a bit nervous before the game as A-Grade is a bit serious for me.
“But it felt really good and I had an absolute ball.
“The pressure was on but it was a lot cleaner than in the reserves.
“I had not played with the girls before but Jorja (Weily) and Dana (Schembri) have been around for a few years,” said Ross.
“Unfortunately, Angels were missing a few players and had to call up B-Graders.
“We lost, but it is what it is.
“I grew up playing for Federal after coming up from South Gippsland and I still enjoy playing netball.”
Ross was well supported by Federal veteran Crystal Dixon who was again called on to fill the goal attack role.
While she might have only netted 13 goals, they came at crucial times when Rovers were challenging. Six of her goals came in final quarter when the two sides were going goal for goal.
Rovers fought back in the third quarter, after trailing 22-18 at the break, with teenage goal attack Molly Southam shooting a perfect 11 goals without a miss.
Neither was at full strength with Federal covering its missing players with Ross, Jorja Weily, Caitlin Rourke and junior Charlotte Rudd while Rovers included Sherelle Dowell, Ella Adami, Chloe Bethel and junior Christa Ziem.
With the scores level at three-quarter time the stage was set for an epic final quarter and it did not disappoint.
Rovers had the first centre pass but its first attack failed when a risky pass was intercepted by Federal. The same happened to Rovers second attack after its defence had stopped the Federal counter attack.
Federal pushed out to a three-goal lead with five minutes to play before Rovers got a run on to level the scores.
The final minutes were goal-for-goal until Federal netted the final two of the game.
There was some good news for Wests A-Grade, which had a bye, with star veteran defender Margaret Smith playing in the A-Reserves clash between the two Wests teams.
Smith helped Wests Epilogue to a 52-47 win against Wests Gillen.
Rovers Complete Construction went top of the A-Reserves ladder with a 61-28 win against previous ladder leader Neata Glass Giants.
Federal Club Eastside, with four A-grade players making up the numbers after their A-grade success, defeated Angels 32-27.
There was drama in the C-Grade when the lights failed in the game between Federal P&V Flames and Federal Swifts.
The game was called off at half time with Flames leading 28-20.
The 17-and-under clash between undefeated sides Giants Bark n Bath and Federal Red finished with a 44-33 win to Giants.
There was an exciting 35-35 draw in the 15-and-under game between Rovers and AS Print Giants on Saturday.