ANL: NSW split opening night

It was one win and one loss for Netball NSW (NNSW) tonight (Saturday 12 July) when the Anne Clark Centre hosted Week 2 Australian Netball League (ANL) action. The NNSW Waratahs posted a comprehensive 80-26 win over the Canberra Darters, while their younger stable-mates the NNSW Blues came agonisingly close against the Tassie Spirit, losing by one, 48-47.

NNSW Waratahs Head Coach Anita Keelan was all smiles at the end of the game, heaping praise on her charges on their first outing.

“I’m really pleased, not just with the win, but because the girls put out everything that we have been working on at training,” Keelan said.

“It was a really solid performance from all 11 players who took the court, a real team performance, and gives us confidence ahead of Tassie [Spirit] tomorrow. But really happy with that game, a great start to our 2014 season.”

NNSW Blues Head Coach Briony Akle echoed her counterpart’s excitement, saying she was thrilled with the effort from her players.

“It’s disappointing to lose by just one goal but I thought the girls did a really good job tonight against an experienced Tassie,” Akle said.

“We had three ANL debutants tonight, including Lauren Moore who I thought did a great job in her first appearance. I’m excited with our season’s start and looking forward to the Darters tomorrow.”

It was a great start to proceedings with NNSW Waratahs getting out to a flying start against the Darters, setting up their 54-goal win. The home side flew out to an early 6-nil lead before the Darters called a timeout. The short break gave the visitors a chance to regather, hitting the scoreboard first after the respite. The next few minutes belonged to the Darters, but the NNSW Waratahs took a healthy 15-goal lead into the first break.

Backing up from their DOOLEYS State League Waratah Cup Semi Final performance last Wednesday, defensive pairing Kristiana Manu’a and Nicole Styles worked well to prevent the free movement of the Darter shooters. Their teammates didn’t let them down in attack with the shooters finding the post, led by some beautiful feeding from Kaitlyn Bryce. The home side won the second quarter 18 goals to seven, to lead by 26 at halftime.

Head Coach Anita Keelan made her first changes to her side for the start of the second half, making four changes to the starting seven; Amy Sommerville came on at GA, Captain Emily Keenan at C, and Elly Willan onto GK while Manu’a moved to GD.

The changes did little to disrupt the home side’s momentum, as the 2013 Runners-Up continued to put pressure on the scoreboard. At three-quarter time the NNSW Waratahs had a comfortable 36-goal lead and made two further changes for the final 15 minutes, bringing 2014 NSW Swift Brooke Miller on to WA and Jessica Calderara to GD.

In the end the NSW team put their foot down and, cheered on by their home fans, posted a comprehensive win to open their 2014 ANL campaign. The big win boosted the atmosphere as the vocal NSW crowd were in full voice as the NNSW Blues took the court against Tassie Spirit.

It was a much more even affair in the second game, with scores all tied up for most of the opening quarter until Tassie pulled out to a slim four-goal lead at the first break. But the young home side weren’t to be discouraged and by halfway through the second quarter had tied up the scoreboard.

The momentum stayed with the NNSW Blues and backed by their vocal home crowd took a slim two goal buffer over the Spirit into the big break, 26-24.

NNSW Blues Head Coach Briony Akle made her first change for the game, bringing on third debutant Claire O’Brien to WA. The Australian 17/U squad member didn’t miss a beat with sharp speed and pin-point feeding into the circle.

The game continued to see-saw as the teams traded goals, however Spirit found some rhythm to take the lead. The NNSW Blues didn’t give up and by the final break trailed the Tasmanians by just two goals.

The NNSW Blues made further changes for the final 15 minutes, bringing on experienced shooter Claudia Russell to GA while switching circle defenders Lauren Moore and Billie Gurr to GD and GK respectively.

It was a thrilling final quarter with neither team able to gain ascendency. With eight minutes to play Holly Pearce found the post to put the NNSW Blues in front, but just two minutes later the Spirit again levelled the scoreboard.

The trend continued for the remaining few minutes and the noise at the Anne Clark Centre rose as the clock ticked over. With Tassie pulling out to a two-goal buffer in the final 40 seconds but with the ball in Pearce’s hands the GS found the post. With time running out for the NNSW Blues, Tassie Spirit claimed a hard-fought one goal win.

The NNSW Waratahs will be back on court tomorrow at 12pm to take on the Spirit, while the NNSW Blues will meet the Canberra Darters at 2pm. Come down to the Anne Clark Centre to cheer on your NSW teams!

NNSW WARATAHS V CANBERRA DARTERS

Quarter-by-Quarter Scores
NNSW WARATAHS│ Q1: 20 – Q2: 38 (10) – Q3: 56 – (18) – Q4: 80 (24)
DARTERS│ Q1: 5 – Q2: 12 (7) – Q3: 20 (8) – Q4: 26 (6)

Shooting Statistics
NNSW WARATAHS: 80/94 @ 85%
Kristina Brice: 63/68 @ 93%
Leah Shoard: 8/14 @ 57%
Amy Sommerville: 9/12 @ 75%

DARTERS: 26/41 @ 63%
Alix McDermott: 14/19 @74%
Lisa Kaye: 1/4 @ 25%
Mardi Aplin: 1/3 @ 33%
Alison Miller: 10/15 @ 67%

Starting Line-ups
NNSW WARATAHS│GS Kristina Brice, GA Leah Shoard, WA Kaitlyn Bryce, C Brooke Miller, WD Jessica Calderara, GD Nicole Styles, GK Kristiana Manu’a

DARTERS│ GS Alix McDermott, GA Lisa Kaye, WA Leigh Kalsbeek, C Rebecca Collis, WD Keely Rodrigo (c), GD Michelle Massarany, GK Natalie Jones

Positional Changes
NNSW WARATAHS│ Q3 – GA Amy Sommerville, C Emily Keenan (c), WD Maddie Hay, GD Manu’a, GK Elly Willan; Q4 – WA Miller, GD Calderara; Q4 Timeout – WA Bryce.

DARTERS│ Q2 – GA Mardi Aplin, WD Michaley Phokos, GD Rodrigo, GK Massarany; Q3 – GS Alison Miller, GA McDermott, C Georgia Clayden; Q3 Timeout – GD Nardia Macdonald.

NNSW BLUES V TASSIE SPIRIT Quarter-by-Quarter Scores
NNSW BLUES│ Q1: 9 – Q2: 26 (17) – Q3: 34 (8) – Q4: 47 (13)
SPIRIT│ Q1: 13 – Q2: 24 (11) – Q3: 36 (12) – Q4: 48 (12)

Shooting Statistics
NNSW BLUES: 47/60 @ 78%
Holly Pearce: 28/37 @ 76%
Kiera Austin: 14/18 @ 78%
Claudia Russell: 5/5 @ 100%

SPIRIT: 48/61 @ 79%
Sophie Gunn: 40/48 @ 83%
Kate Costelloe: 8/13 @ 62%

Starting Line-ups
NNSW BLUES│GS Holly Pearce, GA Kiera Austin, WA Tanisha Stanton, C Nikki Deegenaars, WD Sophie Halpin (c), GD Billie Gurr, GK Lauren Moore 
SPIRIT│ GS Sophie Gunn, GA Kate Costelloe, WA Hayley Sansom, C Madeline Carter, WD Katharine Olechowski, GD Dannielle Carstens, GK Kirra Parsons

Positional Changes
NNSW BLUES│ Q3 – WA Claire O’Brien; Q4 – GA Claudia Russell, GD Moore, GK Gurr.

SPIRIT│ Q2 – C Sophia Saunders; Q3 – C Carter, WD Ebony Roberts.