An eerie calm descended over the Latrobe Valley as the Yinnar Zodiacs prepared to face their long-time nemesis, the Kestrels, in the Yinnar Netball League 2002 Grand Final.
The gladiators donned their armour - the Kestrels in special-edition matching white headbands and knee-high socks, Meg with her skirt pulled up to her neck in the traditional manner - not to mention occasional spectators hitting the streets with arbitrarily applied hair gel!
Meg got the WD40 guernsey (the squeaky wheel gets the grease), but made the most of the situation by taking up the key Wing Defence position. After a stirring rendition of the National Anthem, the players were individually announced to the expectant crowd. Some mysterious jeering was witnessed during Meg's intro, which she stoically ignored, her focus squarely on the task ahead.
The Zodiacs had a nervous start as the game got underway, but managed to stay with the Kestrels until about halfway through the first quarter. The Kestrels then put in a burst worthy of their seagull-inspired name, to end the first quarter leading the Zodiacs 10-3.
Meg was rested during the second quarter, but put on an inspiring display of sideline motivation techniques, "Go Zodiacs"-ing the team to their most competitive quarter, with a bag of 5 goals to the Kestrels 7.
After a curious absence of halftime oranges, Meg returned with fresh legs for the oft-called "premiership" quarter. Unfortunately, the Kestrels managed to extend their lead even further, despite some friendly-fire "netball to the head" incidents. If only the Kestrels had been aware of Meg's secret weapon - the cowering from the ball lotus position - the risk of serious injury would have been reduced significantly.
A bit of behind the play pinchy-pinchy livened up the final quarter, before the siren blew with the Zodiacs on the wrong side of a 36-13 score line.
In the end, however, trophies made of the finest Gippsland coal were presented to the victors and the vanquished alike, as the Zodiacs reaffirmed their intentions to turn the tide next season. All in all, a memorable match, showcasing the very finest in country town netball...