NSW triumphant over Canberra visitors

The Netball NSW (NNSW) Waratahs have triumphed over a tenacious Canberra Darters to finish 60-48 victors at Netball Central, in what could be the side’s final appearance of the 2015 Australian Netball League (ANL).

However the score doesn’t accurately describe the tight contest spectators were treated to, with the Darters pushing the home side for the majority of the 60 minutes; NSW able to finish the match strongest to claim the 12-goal win.

“It was a real arm wrestle to start with, but I was really pleased with how the girls finished off – we looked calm, we were in control, we did some really beautiful things in attack and we wore [the Darters] down in defence, so I’m really happy with potentially our last game of the season – it was a good way to finish,” Head Coach Anita Keelan said.

The NNSW Waratahs rely on the misfortunes of other ANL sides to have a chance at contesting the 2015 Finals Series. Whilst it remains out of their hands, Keelan confirmed the team would train hard so they’re ready in the case opportunity knocks following Week 5 results.

“Unfortunately we’ve left our run a little late. We [have] our bye next week, and it would have been nice if we’d actually had that bye earlier in the season and [we] might have been in good place running into Semis from what I saw today.

“But that’s how it goes – we probably needed to get our act together a little bit sooner. We’ll just hope that [the Darters] can really rally and hopefully knock off Queensland [for us] next week, so fingers crossed.

“[However]I think the girls are really happy [with today’s] performance – they really gelled, had some great ball movement, so it’s a nice way to finish off if that’s how it’s going to be,” Keelan concluded.

Stephanie Wood opened the scoring with a confident long-range goal and would remain NSW’s main target in the shooting circle thanks to her quick speed and growing combination with partner Kimberly Borger.

However the Darters had arrived to play, putting on an impressive defensive pressure for their shooters to capitalise on the scoreboard. Whilst nothing could separate the teams for the first five minutes, a couple crucial possession losses from the NNSW Waratahs gave the Darters the opportunity to take the lead – forcing the home side into chase mode.

Along with their ‘A’ game, the Darters had brought with them a vocal crowd of spectators who willed on their side at every contest. But they couldn’t prevent the NNSW Waratahs from getting back in front after the hosts emerged from a timeout to gain back the advantage as the teams went into the first break.

Keelan was the only coach to make changes for the second quarter, switching her defensive combination of Nicole Styles and Lauren Moore to GD and GK, respectively.

The Darters came out firing for the second quarter with their terrific hands-over defence preventing NSW’s quick ball play and transitional speed. Whilst NSW were able to remain in front – much in part to Borger dominating the shooting circle – they could never shake a tenacious Darters outfit.

The visitors called a timeout halfway through the second quarter, trailing their opponents by two goals; but it would NSW who would benefit most from the unscheduled break.  Stand-in Captain Nikki Deegenaars was a huge presence in the defensive end, with her strong hands-over pressure and quick closing speed seeing the 24-year-old take crucial intercepts.

Along with great defensive teamwork from NSW’s circle defenders, and their attacking teammates didn’t let them down with shooters Wood and Borger firing, NNSW Waratahs were able to take a handy four-goal advantage into half-time.

A rejuvenated NSW came out for the second half, outscoring their opponents five goals to one in the opening five minutes of the third quarter. The physicality increased as players threw themselves into every contest, with every possession counting towards the scoreboard with both side’s shooting ends extremely accurate.

While staring at a six-goal deficit the Darters wouldn’t be discouraged, continuing to push the NSW outfit.  With their ability to convert goals quickly the Darters were soon back to within two goals of the NNSW Waratahs; but the home side regathered to extend their lead by one as the match headed into the final 15 minutes.

Keelan opted to revert back to her starting defensive combination, however the switch did little to stem NSW’s momentum as they came out charging for the final quarter. NSW’s strong one-on-one defence gave little room for the Darters to find space, creating strong pressure over every ACT pass.

With 10 minutes on the clock NSW had jumped out to a 10 goal buffer – the first time they were able to get out to double figure lead in the match. Despite the imbalance on the scoreboard, the contest was red-hot as the Darters never gave up their drive to claw back the deficit.

A quick timeout gave NSW another opportunity to bring on two players from the bench for the final couple minutes, with Amy Sommerville replacing Borger at GS, and Kara Styles at GD to partner with her sister Nicole in the circle.

In the end the changes were superfluous, with NSW going on to finished 12-goal victors in what could potentially be their final appearance in the 2015 season.

Click here to view the 2015 ANL Fixtures and Ladder.

Quarter-by-Quarter Scores
NSW│ Q1: 14 – Q2: 29 (15) – Q3: 43 (14) – Q4: 60 (17)
ACT│ Q1: 13 – Q2: 25 (12) – Q3: 38 (13) – Q4: 48 (10)

Shooting Statistics
NSW: 60/75 @ 80%
K. Borger: 34/40 @ 85%
S. Wood: 25/33 @ 76%
A. Sommerville: 1/2 @ 50%

ACT: 48/58 @ 83%
S. Nalder: 25/32 @ 78%
V. Mullampy: 23/26 @ 88%

Starting Line-ups
NSW│ GS Kimberly Borger, GA Stephanie Wood, WA Taylah Davies, C Kaitlyn Bryce, WD Nikki Deegenaars (C), GD Lauren Moore, GK Nicole Styles

ACT│ GS Simone Nalder, GA Vanessa Mullampy, WA Leigh Kalsbeek, C Georgia Clayden, WD Nardia Macdonald, GD Keely Rodrigo (C), GK Maddy Balson

Positional Changes
NSW│ Q2 – GD N. Styles, GK Moore; Q4 – GD Moore, GK N. Styles; Q4 Timeout – GS Amy Sommerville, GD Kara Styles.
ACT│ Q3 – WD Michaley Phokos, GD Macdonald, GK Rodrigo; Q4 Timeout – GD Maddie McCathie.