The NSW 19/U are the 2015 National Netball Champions after defeating Victoria, 43-39, in an Extra-Time thriller at Netball Central.
After VIC tied the scores after the final whistle of regular 40-minute game with a penalty shot, the teams headed for Extra Time with NSW finishing strong to claim the victory. NSW defender Toni Anderson was named Tournament MVP.
“It was so exciting – I thought we had it with about three minutes to go in regular time and [for the game] to go into Extra Time, we weren’t really prepared for that to be honest… I’m just so happy that we won,” Akle admitted.
“[I’m so proud of] all 12 girls – I said to them before not every one may not have got [on the court] today, but they actually got us to this place, so it’s a real team victory and one we will thoroughly enjoy.”
The match began like a typical NSW v VIC contest with the two sides trading goals, nothing separating them with both sides displayed strong defensive pressure. While VIC opted to double-defend 188cm GS Cristy Linaker, her Captain and shooting partner Kiera Austin rose to the challenge of keeping the scoreboard ticking over for NSW.
However the most intriguing battles were fought in the midcourt with attackers turning into defenders, and defenders trying their hand at attacking – every player giving everything for their side. The result saw the scores all tied up 7 a-piece at the first break.
VIC opened the scoring for the second quarter, before quickly putting up a second thanks to a handy pick-up in defence, giving the visitors a handy two goal advantage. But NSW wouldn’t be discouraged – Vice Captain Amy Parmenter in particular putting her body on the line for the Blues.
With five minutes until half-time NSW scored the equaliser and with the next centre pass took the lead. A handy intercept from C Elyssa Pierce turned over VIC’s next centre, with Linaker converting under the post, with NSW finding themselves two goals ahead; resulting in a VIC timeout.
The visitors used the unscheduled break to make their first changes, whilst NSW took confidence from hitting the lead. The line-up switch invigorated VIC who, through their 197cm GS Emma Ryde-Coad evened the scoreboard once more.
The teams once again were locked into a see-sawing battle, however thanks to their Captain nailing a mid-range shot NSW had the lead – if only by a single goal – at the half-time break.
Akle made her first change for the match, bringing on Nationals rookie Emily Moore to GS to form a mobile shooting circle for the Blues – the 18-year-old nailing her first attempt to extend NSW’s buffer. However VIC had an immediate reply, once again setting up the teams trading goals.
A single turnover was all it took for a team to even the score, and take back the lead – nothing could separate these two rivals. Once again it was Parmenter who led NSW’s charge with some inspirational play, with Moore/Austin combining well to convert the possession gains.
NSW keeper Ashley Valeni got her fingertips to a VIC high-ball feed into Ryde to deny the visitors a shot on goal, giving NSW a small but handy two goal advantage at the final break, and with the first centre pass of the fourth quarter.
Converting their centre (with thanks to an audacious long-bomb from Austin, who had switched with Moore to GS) the Blues went up three goals early, however VIC soon responded having reverted back to their original starting line-up.
Some wayward passes in NSW’s attacking end gave VIC the sniff they needed and with five minutes on the clock evened the scoreboard. Once again Valeni came out to take a vital intercept, which Austin converted, and with under three minutes left on the clock NSW had a three goal buffer.
Fans were in full voice, loud on their feet, it was a tantalising final two minutes to the game. However VIC finished the quarter strongly, with Ryde-Coad scoring the equaliser after the whistle with a penalty shot, to send the match into Extra Time.
Giving her side fresh legs for the extra play, Akle introduced Olivia Lennon to C while switching back her shooters Austin and Moore to GA and GS, respectively. With five minutes to stake their case, NSW worked hard – Parmenter again coming up with a crucial possession gain – and the Blues took a vital two goal lead into the final five minute period.
Emotions were charged as players ran on empty having given everything to the game, but the crowd spurred them on with the noise not letting up for the entire five minute period; NSW pulling away in the end to claim victory and the 2015 Champions title.
NSW│ Q1: 7 – Q2: 16 (9) – Q3: 25 (9) – Q4: 34 (9) – ET1: 38 (4) – ET2: 43 (5)
VIC│ Q1: 7 – Q2: 15 (8) – Q3: 23 (8) – Q4: 34 (11) – ET1: 36 (2) – ET2: 39 (3)
NSW: 43/50 @ 86%
C. Linaker: 5/5 @ 100%
K. Austin: 27/32 @ 84%
E. Moore: 11/13 @ 85%
VIC: 39/41 @ 95%
E. Ryde: 33/35 @ 94%
Z. Woods: 5/5 @ 100%
S. Gooden: 1/1 @ 100%
NSW│ GS Cristy Linaker, GA Kiera Austin (C), WA Claire O’Brien, C Elyssa Pierce, WD Amy Parmenter (VC), GD Toni Anderson, GK Ashley Valeni
VIC │ GS Emma Ryde, GA Zanna Woods, WA Libby Birch (co-C), C Emily Browne, WD Casey Adamson (co-C), GD Jacqueline Newton, GK Julia Smith
NSW│ Q3 – GS Emily Moore; Q4 – GS Austin, GA Moore; ET1 – GS Moore, GA Austin, C Olivia Lennon.
VIC │ Q2 Timeout – WA Tayla Honey, C Birch; Q3 – GA Samantha Gooden; Q4 – GA Woods, WA Brich, C Browne.