Northern Suburbs save best to last to claim 2015 title

Northern Suburbs ran out the Division 2 Grand Final, defeating Sutherland Shire (SSNA) 46-30 to be crowned the 2015 DOOLEYS State League Champions.

Goal percentage was all that separated the two sides at the conclusion of the regular season, with NSNA turning around a thrilling one-goal deficit to SSNA in the Major Semi Final to claim the title.

Head Coach Craig Marsh said he couldn’t fault his NSNA charges dedication and determination, not only across the 2015 season, but in the years building up to this performance.

“We’re just very excited – these girls have been working very hard for a number of years now and they’ve come out here tonight, put everything together when it really mattered.  I’m just very proud of them and we’re all super excited [to be crowned Champions],” Marsh stated.

Minor Premiers SSNA opened the scoring, with the match locked in a see-sawing battle early with the two sides trading goals. The game was played at a blistering pace with both SSNA and NSNA looking to transition the ball quickly down the court to catch their opposition defenders off-guard.

NSNA were the first to break the deadlock by getting a small lead over their opposition.  However it would be short-lived as SSNA’s defenders worked overtime to provide possession for their attacking end to capitalise.

SSNA soon found themselves out by three goals – their shooters’ long-range accuracy giving them the edge on the scoreboard. But NSNA wouldn’t be discouraged as they rallied to take back the lead within two minutes of the first break.  Some scrappy play followed suit with NSNA emerging best to hold a slim one-goal buffer at quarter time.

Extending their advantage by scoring the opening goal of the next quarter, NSNA also upped the ante on their defensive pressure as they opted for a midcourt zone to prevent SSNA from moving the ball quickly.  This allowed NSNA’s circle defenders a “better look” at the transitional play, leading to vital intercepts.

With their shooters combining well in the circle NSNA were able to get out to a handy four-goal advantage halfway through the second quarter – their pressure unrelenting as they forced SSNA into chase mode.

NSNA were firmly in command as SSNA found themselves unable to score for seven minutes; NSNA enjoying a run of consecutive goals which would put them firmly in the drivers’ seat at half-time.  However some heroic efforts from the SSNA circle defenders kept them in the contest as they trailed NSNA 18-24 at the big break.

SSNA were able to open the scoring for the second half but it took some time as the teams re-entered the court after some scrappy play.  NSNA soon had an answer, but again it was after some possession losses from both sides.

The unsettled environment provided spectators with thrilling netball as players chased down loose balls, threw themselves at any potential intercept, and wrestled mid-air for rebounds. Both teams slowly settled, however SSNA couldn’t make any headway on their opposition’s lead – NSNA having an answer for every SSNA goal scored.

Some desperate defensive work in the final seconds prevented the ball getting into SSNA’s shooting circle, with NSNA extending their lead to eight goals as the match headed into the final 15 minutes.

Once again the Grand Finalists were locked in a battle of trading goals – SSNA willing themselves to close the deficit, while NSNA never took their foot off the pedal.  Strong rebounding under the post from NSNA defenders saw their attacking teammates convert the extra possession gains, and with eight minutes on the clock their lead pushed out to double digits for the first time.

A timeout called with under five minutes on the clock gave SSNA a chance to regroup and while facing a 10-goal deficit, charged out for the final few minutes. However it would be in vain as NSNA stormed home to post a 16-goal victory.

Quarter-by-Quarter Scores
SSNA│ Q1: 11 – Q2: 18 (7) – Q3: 25 (7) – Q4: 30 (5)
NSNA│ Q1: 12 – Q2: 24 (12) – Q3: 33 (9) – Q4: 46 (13)

Shooting Statistics
SSNA: 30/56 @ 54%
K. Walker: 14/23 @ 61%
S. Page: 16/33 @ 16/33 @ 48%

NSNA: 46/69 @ 67%
A. Clysdale: 21/32 @ 66%
E. Neal: 15/26 @ 58%
R. Ludowci: 10/11 @ 91%

2015 DOOLEYS State League – Division 2 Fixtures/Results
Wed 8 July 7:00pm Major Semi Final Sutherland Shire 46 d Northern Suburbs 45
Minor Semi Final Eastwood Ryde 60 d St George 58 (ET)
Wed 15 July 7:00pm Preliminary Final Northern Suburbs 42 d Eastwood Ryde 33
Wed 22 July 7:00pm Grand Final Northern Suburbs 46 d Sutherland Shire 30