Netball NSW Waratahs in Extra Time thriller

A thrilling double Extra Time game has opened Week 4 of the 2014 Australian Netball League (ANL) at Ormiston College, with hosts Queensland Fusion claiming victory over the Netball NSW (NNSW) Waratahs, 80-78, in a match that lasted almost 80 minutes.

NNSW Waratahs Assistant Coach Moira Gaha said the team were naturally disappointed with the result, but said coaching staff couldn’t have been happier with the effort the players put out on court.

“The girls gave it absolutely everything tonight – we couldn’t have asked for anything more.  They chased down loose balls, turned over possession, stayed level-headed and calm when needed; it just wasn’t our day today,” Gaha said.

“Fusion were very good tonight and had a great home crowd behind them supporting every play.  There are some things that we could have done better, but we’ll address them and put them into place for the remainder of the weekend.

“It’s not an ideal start for us playing a double Extra Time game at the start of a triple-header weekend, but you roll with the punches.  Now it’s about recovering really well and getting ready for Territory Storm tomorrow,”Gaha concluded.

It was a strong start from the NNSW Waratahs, opening up to an early 7-2 lead in the opening minutes.  Knowing when to turn their speed on and off to their advantage, the NSW outfit moved the ball confidently across the court.

Boasting plenty of experience at both bookends – 2014 Grand Finalist Demelza Fellowes (formerly McCloud) in at GK and 2014 NSW Swift Gretel Tippett in at GS – the hosts began to make a push halfway through the quarter. Netball Centre of Excellence squad member Hulita Haukinima at WD was strong for the Fusion back-end, giving her circle defenders assistance by putting strong hands over the ball.

However the combination of the two NSW Brice/Bryce girls – GS Kristina and WA Kaitlyn – showed its continued improvement, with Bryce putting in pin-point feeds for GS Brice to go to post.  The result saw NSW take a handy lead into the first break.

QLD opened the score for the second quarter, with Cara Koenen doing the honours after coming onto the GS bib in replace of Tippett.  But NNSW Waratahs had an immediate answer, putting up the next four goals unanswered.

Despite giving away 10cm to her defensive opponents in the circle, NSW GA Leah Shoard showed no hesitation going to the post, providing a mobile option for NSW feeders when Brice found herself double-defended.

By halfway through the second 15 minutes the NNSW Waratahs had pulled out to a 10 goal advantage, but backed by a vocal home crowd QLD wouldn’t be discouraged. Enjoying a late run of goals to the first half, QLD pulled back the deficit on the scoreboard.  But NSW held out, taking a nine goal buffer into the half-time break.

Keelan made her first changes for game, bringing on Nicole Styles and Captain Emily Keenan to GD and C, respectively.  But it was the Fusion who came out fast and hard for the start of the second half, chipping away goal by goal at the deficit.

Outscoring the visitors by six goals for the third quarter, the Fusion were able to go into the break just five goals behind NNSW Waratahs and with plenty of momentum heading into the final quarter.

Momentum remained with the hosts for the final quarter, outscoring NSW 7-3 in first five minutes to trail by a single goal.  This trend would continue – NNSW Waratahs pulling out to a slim lead, only for the Fusion to cut it back down to one.

A timeout called with six minutes on the clock gave both teams a chance to reset. An unlucky turnover from NSW gave QLD the opportunity to equalise the scoreboard, with another shortly after to see the hosts take the lead for the first time.

It wouldn’t last long and with minutes remaining the NNSW Waratahs took back the lead.  Back and forth the teams would trade goals until the final whistle saw the game ending in a draw, 62-62, and forcing the match into Extra Time.

Making two changes for the first period of Extra Time, NSW brought back on 2014 NSW Swift Maddie Hay to WD, moving Calderara to GD. Again the teams traded goals until a handy turnover from WA Bryce on the NNSW Waratahs defensive transverse line gave the visitors an opportunity to take a two goal buffer, which they held onto until the short break.

The second period of Extra Time produced much like the first and once again finished in a draw, forcing the teams to play on further until one side had reached a two goal buffer.  The NNSW Waratahs had an opportunity to claim the win, but Australian 21/U squad member Mahalia Cassidy took a handy intercept to keep her QLD side in the contest.

Backed by their vocal home crowd, QLD pushed out to claim a thrilling win to open the weekend’s action.

The NNSW Waratahs will be back on court tomorrow at 6:30pm to take on the Territory Storm, featuring NSW junior and 2015 Adelaide Thunderbirds recruit Nicola Gray as an import player.

Keep up to date with all the action on the road with Netball NSW’s social media channels; www.facebook.com/OfficialNetballNSW, Twitter and Instagram @netballnsw #ANL2014 #GoNSW

Quarter-by-Quarter Scores
NNSW WARATAHS│ Q1: 18 – Q2: 37 (19) – Q3: 50 (13) – Q4: 62 (12) – ET1: 70 (8) – ET2: 76 (6) – FT: 78 (2)
QLD FUSION│ Q1: 13 – Q2: 26 (13) – Q3: 45 (19) – Q4: 62 (17) – ET1: 68 (6) – ET2: 76 (8) – FT: 80 (4)

Shooting Statistics
NNSW WARATAHS: 78/86 @ 91%
Kristina Brice: 56/ 58 @ 97%
Leah Shoard: 22/28 @ 79%

QLD FUSION: 80/95 @ 84%
Gretel Tippett: 6/9 @ 67%
Stephanie Wood: 36/43 @ 84%
Cara Koenen: 38/43 @ 88%

Teams Starting Positions
NNSW WARATAHS│ GS Kristina Brice, GA Leah Shoard, WA Kaitlyn Bryce, C Brooke Miller, WD Maddie Hay, GD Jessica Calderara, GK Kristiana Manu’a

QLD FUSION│ GS Gretel Tippett, GA Stephanie Wood, WA Mahalia Cassidy, C Laura Scherian (co-c), WD Hulita Haukinima, GD Katie Underwood, GK Demelza Fellowes (co-c)

Positional Changes
NNSW WARATAHS│ Q3 – C Emily Keenan (c), GD Nicole Styles; Q4 – C Miller, WD Calderara; ET1: WD Hay, GD Calderara.

QLD FUSION│ Q2 – GS Cara Koenen; Q2 Timeout – WA Scherian, C Cassidy; Q3 – WA Sally Butters, WD Madeline McAuliffe, GD Kerri Gordon.