Ballina nets nervous title

BALLINA RSL captain-coach Amie Clarke was feeling more pressure than most in the final term of the Far North Coast Premier League netball grand final on Saturday.

She'd been handed the coaching reins for the championship decider because Ballina's regular coach, and her mother, Mauren Clarke, was away in Sydney.

With grand final opponents Clarence Coast closing in on the lead, and a few calls going against Ballina in the last quarter, there was plenty of weight on Clarke's 21-year-old shoulders.

But she and her team-mates managed to hold their nerve at the Goon-ellabah Sports and Aquatic Centre and run out deserving 43-41 winners.

“The game was a real roller-coaster, up and down all day,” Clarke said.

“We took control early and then they fought back. A few unexpected calls went against us and we found that pretty intimidating.

“The unexpected calls changed the flow of the game and put us off balance a bit, but when the other team pushed hard, we pushed them back.”

Clarke said she felt the added pressure of coaching because she couldn't get any overall perspective like she would if she was sitting on the sidelines.

“Everyone had their two bob's worth and we sort of worked out what we had to do, but it was stressful at the time,” she said.

Clarke said the players went a bit 'hypo' after the match and shared the moment with her mother in Sydney via a video call.

“She was on a train to the airport and we put in a video call to her and it was quite amusing,” Clarke said.

“We also had a really good reaction from the crowd, lots of people coming up to congratulate us and take photos.”

Clarke named Alex Lee and Tahlia Smith as two of the best players in the grand final.



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