Force draw first blood in Adelaide

Southern Force have claimed a 50-48  victory in the first game of their 2016 Australian Netball League double header with the Netball NSW Waratahs at Adelaide’s Titanium Security Arena on Saturday 18 June.

The NNSW Waratahs – who have already secured a place in next weekend’s ANL Finals Series at Netball Central, Sydney Olympic Park – came into the contest looking for their sixth win of the season and some momentum but came up short in a game that ebbed and flowed right from the first centre pass.

The opening few minutes were relatively low scoring as the teams got the measure of the each other and the first goals for both sides came about after careful build up rather than swift attack.

As the first quarter progressed the Waratahs were starting to find some fluidity in the midcourt with leadership duo Taylah Davies and Maddies Hay getting slick passes into Georgia Marshall and Kiera Austin in the shooting circle.

After 10 minutes they had a three-goal lead but good service into Force attackers Stephanie Puopolo and Sheree Hodges was keeping the home side well in touch. The Force had chances to get within a few goals of NSW before quarter time but fine work from Ashely Valeni and Lauren Moore in defence meant the visitors went into the first break with a 13-9 lead.

Both teams were a little loose with their play at the start of the second quarter. Moore and Valeni continued to put the Force shooters under pressure but the Waratahs were turning over ball further up the court. And the home team would take full advantage of their added possession by drawing level midway through the period.

Centre Kelly Altmann and wing defence Emily Burgess were particularly effective for the South Australians in the midcourt as the teams traded goals for the next few minutes of play. The Force had more chances but the Waratahs defenders were doing their jobs and weren’t conceding easy scores. The home team did well to be on level terms at half time but neither side was stamping their authority on the vital midcourt battle.

The teams went goal for goal in the opening five minutes of the third quarter as the intensity of the game went up a notch. Abbey McCulloch and Claire O’Brien were providing some real impetus and go forward for NSW while Amy Sommerville was converting for her team.

However the Waratahs were guilty of losing their composure and with it gifted possession and momentum to their opponents. Despite the shift in play, the visitors were able to maintain a 31-29 lead midway through the third.

The Force weren’t cowed by their opponents’ resurgence, however, and went on a mini-run to haul them in and take the lead back with four minutes to go to the final break. It was a lead they wouldn’t relinquish before it as the Waratahs turned the ball over and the South Australians punished them to take a three-goal advantage into the final quarter.

The home team came out firing in the fourth quarter and had a seven-goal lead after five minutes of it, which in the context of the game was a big one. The visitors were losing the midcourt battle and needed to stem the flow of possession into the Force shooters.

They did manage to do that to a certain extent and with just over three minutes remaining the Waratahs were back within four goals, however, the Force were doing just enough to keep their tally ticking over and opponents at bay.

NSW gave it their all to the very end but Southern Force had just enough to see the contest out.

“We knew Southern Force would come out strong as they always do but we did go away from our game plan a little bit and we really need to work on that in tomorrow’s game,” NNSW Waratahs captain Davies said after the game.

“I’m really pleased with the girls who came on today and I thought we let the ball go well… that ball speed is really what we are good at and, like in the first quarter today, I think we need more of that tomorrow.”

The teams will do it all again tomorrow (Sunday 19 June) when they meet at Netball SA Stadium at 12:00 noon.

Tickets are now available for netball fans who would like to attend the 2016 ANL Finals Series at Netball Central, Sydney Olympic Park. Prices are $11.50 for Adults, $6.50 for Children/Concessions – including booking fee (note: some credit card transactions may apply).

2016 ANL Semi Finals | Saturday 25 June – TICKETS
2016 ANL Grand Final | Sunday 26 June – TICKETS

Quarter-by-Quarter Scores
WARATAHS| Q1: 13 – Q2: 21 (8) – Q3: 34 (13) – Q4: 48 (14)
FORCES| Q1: 9 – Q2: 21 (12) – Q3: 37 (16) – Q4: 50 (13)

Shooting Statistics
WARATAHS: 48/61 @ 79%
G Marshall: 11/13 @ 85%
K Austin: 17/23 @ 74%
A Sommerville: 12/13 @ 92 %
A Miller: 8/12 @ 67%

FORCE: 50/71 @ 70%
S Puopolo: 26/35 @ 74%
C Hodges: 6/11 @ 55%
S Glasgow: 18/25 @ 72%

Starting Line-ups
WARATAHS | GS Georgia Marshall, GA Kiera Austin, WA Taylah Davies, C Maddy Hay, WD Abbey McCulloch, GD Lauren Moore, GK Ashley Valeni

FORCE | GS Stephanie Puopolo, GA Charlee Hodges, WA Sheree Wingard, C Gia Abernathey, WD Emily Burgess, GD Toni Anderson, GK Sarah Klau