NSW into Finals despite SA loss

The NSW 21/U Team have suffered an impressive 40-67 defeat at the hands of South Australia, who showed why they’re the defending Champions with a solid 60-minute performance in round 6 of the 2015 National Netball Championships on the Sunshine Coast.

Despite the defeat NSW will contest the Finals after securing a spot in the Top Four regardless of tomorrow’s final round results.  Head Coach Megan Simpson said making Finals was a silver lining to tonight’s disappointing loss.

“Tonight’s match was really tough for us, but I think it was a really harsh reality check for what the benchmark is in this competition, and South [Australia] are certainly are,” Simpson said.

“For us now we just need to focus on getting the win tomorrow against Northern Territory and then completely re-grouping for the Finals Series, because it’s a completely new ball game.”

It was a fairly scrappy opening to the final game of Day 3 with NSW limiting SA’s usual fast transition of the ball.  However some costly errors from NSW meant they were forced into playing catch up on the scoreboard.  With a timeout called late in the quarter SA had doubled NSW’s score, 10-5, with Simpson making changes at the unscheduled break.

With Stephanie MacGougan coming onto GA, alongside tall WA Claudia Russell, NSW looked to rejuvenate their attacking line however they couldn’t diminish SA’s five-goal advantage.

Despite Kristina Brice proving a good target for NSW in the shooting circle, SA’s defence was impressive as they put plenty pressure on the midcourt feeders – limiting the easy passes to create turnovers.  Despite the defending Champions dominance the Sky Blues kept pushing, leaving no stone unturned.

Highlights included some beautiful feeding from MacGougan to her shooting partner, whilst Vice Captain Maddie Hay was just as potent bringing the ball down the court as she was stretching for intercepts.  Whilst the second 15 minutes was a better scoring quarter for NSW, they went into half-time chasing a 16-goal deficit.

Simpson made two further changes for the start of the second half by changing up her defensive end, bringing on Lauren Stephenson and Celeste Carnegie to GD and GK. The pair worked well together, with Carnegie picking up some handy turnovers for NSW to capitalise on the scoreboard.

But SA were just finding their next gear as they put their foot down; never relinquishing their intensive pressure and fast-paced ball movement.  The result saw NSW looking at a 23-goal deficit at the final break.

Both teams made wholesale changes to their attacking lines, with NSW opting to pair Russell with Brice at GA while bringing on Brooke Lawrence at C to move Captain Bryce to WA.  While the group continued to work hard to string some goals together, SA continued to show their dominance – even the 50/50 balls were falling to the 2014 Champions’ advantage.

While it was NSW’s most prolific shooting quarter, it was not enough to chase down the massive score deficit with SA going on to post an impressive win.

Despite the loss NSW have secured a place in the Top Four and will contest the Finals over the weekend.  Whether the Sky Blues have finished in second, third or fourth will depend on tomorrow’s results.

NSW will return to Caloundra Indoor Stadium tomorrow morning, Friday 13 March, for the final regular round of the tournament when they meet Northern Territory for Round 7 at 9am AEDST.

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

Watch highlights from the match, plus interview with Megan Simpson, below;

Quarter-by-Quarter Scores
NSW│ Q1: 9 – Q2: 19 (10) – Q3: 28 (9) – Q4: 40 (12)
SA│ Q1:  14 – Q2: 35 (21) – Q3: 51 (16) – Q4: 67 (18)

Shooting Statistics
NSW: 40/51 @ 78%
K. Brice: 39/42 @ 93%
G. Marshall: 0/1 @ 0%
S. MacGougan: 1/5 @ 20%
C. Russell: 0/3 @ 0%

SA: 67/84 % 80%
G. Virgo: 29/37 @ 78%
C. Lemke: 22/27 @ 81%
C. Hodges: 9/12 @ 75%
R: Winch: 7/8 @ 88%

Starting Line-ups
NSW│ GS Kristina Brice, GA Georgia Marshall, WA Georgia M. Marshall, C Kaitlyn Bryce (c), WD Maddie Hay (vc), GD Billie Gurr, GK Kara Styles

SA│ GS Georgie Virgo, GA Chelsea Lemke, WA Gia Abernethy (c), C Hannah Petty, WD Emily Burgess, GD Maddy Turner, GK Sarah Klau

Positional Changes
NSW│ Q1 Timeout – GA Stephanie MacGougan, WA Claudia Russell; Q3 – GD Lauren Stephenson, GK Celeste Carnegie; Q3 Timeout – GA G. Marshall; Q4 – GA Russell, WA Bryce, C Brooke Lawrence.

SA│ Q4 – GS Charlee Hodges, GA Rebecca Winch, C Rebecca Moyne, WD Esther Young; Q4 Timeout – GK Lucy Armfield.