Fusion Heat narrowly beat St Collegians, with Crofts on their minds

They’re the top two sides in Dubbo Netball Association’s A grade competition, and on Saturday, Fusion Heat and St Collegians showed why.

The sides were neck-and-neck throughout the top-of-the-table clash, with no more than three points separating them at each break.

They were locked up at 26-all at three-quarter time, before Heat managed to just pull away and claim a gritty 38-34 victory.

So tight was the contest that Heat captain Tash Robinson initially thought they had lost.

“One of the dads was calling out, telling me the score and we were two up, then we were two down, then we were three down and then we were one up so it was really close the whole way,” she said.

“Credit to them, their defensive pressure in the second and third quarter really wore us down.

“We did well to keep composed in that last quarter and come away with the win.”

The win was extra special for the Heat, with teammate Maddie Croft missing the game as she supports sister Molly through her cancer treatment.

“I can’t wait to ring Mads and tell her!” Robinson said.

“She was devastated that she couldn’t be here so it was really great to get the win for her so hopefully … we’ve done her proud today.”

The Heat’s performance won’t be the only source of pride for the Croft family, with Molly’s own teammates also recording a win over the Narromine Rockets in Division 3.

Robinson credited Fusion’s own young guns Izzie Attwater, Tash Janetski and Payton Harris for standing up to St Collegians’ pressure, as well as Ally McLean for “sinking shots from everywhere”.

“Again, Britt Hill … she’s such a workhorse,” Robinson said. “Without her helping us bring that ball down we would be lost in the mid-court.

“Collegians are an awesome team. We never come out on the court against them and expect to win. We know it’s going to be a hard grind of a game and that certainly was.”

The result extends Heat’s lead over the competition with 36 points, while for and against is all that separates St Collegians and Fusion Vixens on 28 points.

But Collegians goal attack Jessica Mawbey said the side, which played without substitutes on Saturday, expect to meet Heat again in the grand final.

“They float a lot so we have to learn to … go forward to the ball more,” Mawbey said.

“I think we’ll give them a good run for their money next time.”

Abbie Merritt’s precision shooting and dynamic movement from Grace Pilon helped keep them in the game, but Mawbey said Collegians’ strength was that “everyone does a good job … no one lags behind in our team”.