Arawang 43 Tuggeranong 37
ACT State League netball grand final
Arawang captain Kim Rice holds the trophy. Photo: Melissa Adams
Retiring Arawang skipper Kim Rice broke down in tears after finishing her career with a ''fairytale'' State League grand final win over Tuggeranong on Sunday.
Rice succumbed to her emotions accepting the trophy after Arawang defended their title with a 43-37 victory, also a fitting swansong for fellow club stalwarts Melina Saunders and Mardi Aplin.
"It's an emotional one, a few of us are pulling the pin,'' Rice said.
"It was nice to finish up on that note. You don't often get a fairytale, and I'm really happy with that.''
Looking for its first title since the league's inaugural 1996 season, Tuggeranong looked ready to cause an upset when it led 13-9 at quarter time.
In a defence-dominated contest Tuggeranong led 22-21 at half-time, but Arawang's experience told in the third term.
Arawang dominated the quarter 13-6 and looked to have the game in control 34-28 at the final change.
A youthful Tuggeranong squandered golden opportunities to bridge the gap early in the last quarter, failing to take advantage of Arawang turnovers.
"We knew they were going to be physical and come at us early, so we had to ride through that and the third quarter was where we needed to consolidate,'' Rice said.
"I got a bit teary with about two minutes to go, that's when I knew it was done.''
Their experienced core has called it quits after eight grand finals in 10 years, but Rice is confident Arawang will remain a title contender.
"We've had these girls in our division one side for a while now, so they're young but experienced,'' she said.
"They played really well today and we have no qualms in handing it over to them.''
Defender Saunders said the team made a pact to avoid becoming distracted by the retirements.
"Our culture has always been on the team, it wasn't even something which needed to be said really,'' she said.
"We play very similar defensive styles and it was always going to be a case of who could convert turnovers.''
Shattered Tuggeranong skipper Maddie White, who featured in the side's last losing grand final in 2009, said the defeat would only add to their resolve next year.
"It definitely does. It was a great first half and I don't know what happened, they made a few changes which really worked for them,'' she said.
Canberra's Jackie Oliver was named the league's most valuable player for the season.
In other grand finals, Arawang again proved too strong for Tuggeranong 49-41 in division three, while Tuggeranong edged out Canberra 55-53 in division two.