NSW claim opening round win

NSW 21/U Team have begun their 2015 National Netball Championships campaign on a positive note, defeating Tasmania 62-31 in their opening match of the tournament.

Head Coach Megan Simpson said she was pleased with her charges’ opening performance, however admitted there is still plenty the team can work on for the remainder of the week.

“The girls did a great job for us today,” Simpson said. “Those who started set a good precedent for those who came off the bench, and we continued to build on our lead throughout the game.

“It was a pretty scrappy game but you expect that for the opening game of Nationals; there’s always going to be some first-game nerves.  But it’s a really solid result for us and will give the girls confidence leading into our next game against Victoria.”

It was a strong start from the Tasmanians who jumped out to a four-nil before NSW found an answer through recent ANZ Championship-debutant Kristina Brice.  Having endured a slow start the Sky Blues found their rhythm, soon taking the lead after some tight defensive work from Billie Gurr and Celeste Carnegie.

Slowly but surely NSW began chipping away, and with a commanding 12-goal lead at the first break continued to press on.  Vice Captain Maddie Hay was instrumental in leading NSW’s charge, with her long arms and tight one-on-one defence creating turnovers for her shooters to capitalise.  First-time Nationals representative Georgia M. ‘Mini’ Marshall grew with confidence in her debut game, finding the circle edge to feed beautifully into Brice.

Still there was plenty of turnovers that marred the opening half, which saw NSW lead by 20-goals at the big break.

Simpson made plenty of changes for the second half, bringing on four players from the bench including Captain Kaitlyn Bryce to C.  The break allowed Tassie to recharge which saw the quarter start on equal footing, providing an entertaining contest for fans.

Lauren Stephenson and Kara Styles combined well in the circle for their Nationals debut, with Stephenson in particular picking off four crucial intercepts for her side to capitalise on the scoreboard.  Whilst it was Tasmania’s best scoring quarter so far, NSW still won the third 15-minute period by five goals to further extend their lead at the final break.

It was a low-scoring final quarter in comparison to the rest of the match, with Tassie keeping NSW to just 10 goals; however it was an even more impressive defensive effort from the Sky Blues who kept their southern state rivals to four goals for the final 15 minutes.

Simpson made one final change to her side, bringing on Georgia Marshall to GA to partner MacGougan at GS in her Nationals debut.  While Stephenson, Styles and Lawrence all took handy intercepts and deflections in the final quarter, it was Captain Bryce who stood out.  With her tenacity and never-say-die attitude, Bryce threw herself into every contest despite NSW’s handy lead.

In the end NSW claimed a hard-fought 31-goal win and confidence booster for the remainder of the tournament.

NSW will be back on court this afternoon at 4:00pm AEDST to meet Victoria in Round 2, continuing the long history of rivalry between the two proud States. Victoria enjoyed a comfortable 15-goal victory over Western Australia earlier today to open their 2015 campaign.

Follow Netball NSW’s social media channels for live updates throughout the game – facebook.com/OfficialNetballNSW and @netballnsw on both Twitter and Instagram.

Watch some match highlights, plus listen to an exclusive NetballNSWTV interview with Megan Simpson, below;

Quarter-by-Quarter Scores
NSW│ Q1: 20 – Q2: 37 (17) – Q3: 52 (15) – Q4: 62 (10)
TAS│ Q1: 8 – Q2: 17 (9) – Q3: 27 (10) – Q4: 31 (4)

Shooting Statistics
NSW: 63/78 @ 81%
K. Brice: 40/46 @ 87%
S. MacGougan: 19/25 @ 76%
G. Marshall: 4/7 @ 57%

TAS: 31/49 @ 63%
D. Pickett: 15/25 @ 60%
E. Margetts: 16/24 @ 67%

Starting Line-ups
NSW│ GS Kristina Brice, GA Stephanie MacGougan, WA Georgia M. Marshall, C Brooke Lawrence, WD Maddie Hay (vc), GD Billie Gurr, GK Celeste Carnegie

TAS│ GS Danielle Pickett, GA Estelle Margetts, WA Zoe Claridge, C Shelby Miller, WD Ebony Roberts, GD Dana Lester, GK Jessica Price

Positional Changes
NSW│ Q3 – WA Claudia Russell, C Kaitlyn Bryce (c), WD Lawrence, GD Lauren Stephenson, GK Kara Styles; Q4 – GS MacGougan, GA Georgia Marshall,

TAS│ Q2 – WA Kate von Stieglitz; Q3 – GK Nikki Miller; Q4 – WA Millie von Stieglitz, C K. von Stieglitz, GD Kate Elmer