The Melville Marlins produced a stunning performance in the Women’s A-Grade Grand Final at Bicton Pool on Saturday afternoon to hand Applecross their first defeat of the season and claim the 2020 premiership.
Coming into the Grand Final, Applecross had put together the perfect season up to that point going through the regular season undefeated and then beating UWA City Beach 19-7 in the semi finals to move straight into the decider.
It was a much harder path for the Marlins just to reach the Grand Final after they did eventually defeat Triton 5-4 in a tight and tense semi-final battle.
But that had the Marlins match hardened and ready to take it right up to the more fancied Applecross in the Grand Final played at Bicton Pool in the battle of the two Melville teams.
Adding to the competitive nature of the contest was also the fact that players from both teams knew they were actively competing against one another for spots in the Fremantle Marlins Australian Water Polo League team for the upcoming 2021 season.
It was the Marlins that then took the early momentum and turned the pressure back on Applecross with the opening two goals of the contest courtesy of Sarah Leavy who scored each of them.
But as you would expect, Applecross responded with the next two goals from Zoe Arancini and Stella Watson to leave scores tied at 2-2 by the end of the opening quarter.
If Applecross thought they had steadied just before quarter-time, the Marlins ensured that wasn’t the case as they dominated the second quarter.
With Lilian Hedges keeping everything out at one end, the Marlins then went and scored three times in the quarter through Maddie Quinn, Quinn again and then Luci Marsh to take a 5-2 advantage into half-time and with the change of ends.
That meant the pressure was right back on Applecross to respond with their undefeated season in serious jeopardy, but it was the Marlins who scored first in the second half with Abbey Grosse converting a 5m penalty.
Applecross did hit back with two quick goals from Watson and Zimmerman, but the Marlins continued to have all the answers and still led 7-4 following a goal from Marsh in general play.
The two teams then traded goals to close out the third quarter with the Marlins remaining in control leading 8-5.
Applecross was never going to go down without throwing everything at the Marlins in the final quarter though.
They did close the gap to two with an early goal to Glencora McGhie but the Marlins did steady through Brooke Pensini with just under six minutes remaining.
The game then went up another gear though. Applecross got a goal back in extra through Ebony Neesham and they then scored again through McGhie to cut the Marlins lead to just one.
They were able to push it back to two when Sofia Chaves scored what proved to be the winning goal, but it wasn’t without some tense moments in the final stages.
A couple of turnovers from the Marlins gave Applecross a chance and they did score again through Celia Evans to leave the Marlins only leading by one.
But Hedges made some huge saves late and that was enough to help the Marlins hold on to win 10-9 and win the premiership, and hand Applecross their first defeat of 2020 in the process.
Madeleine Quinn ended up scoring three goals for the Marlins, Luci Marsh two and Sarah Leavy two while goalkeeper Lilian Hedges was the standout choice for the MVP of the Grand Final for her performance in The Cage.
Glencora McGhie finished with three goals for Applecross, Stella Watson three and Zoe Arancini two.
After the game Arancini from Applecross was named the fairest and best player of the 2020 Women’s A-Grade competition.