Northern Suburbs booked their place in the 2014 Division 3 DOOLEYS State League Grand Final following victory over Minor Premiers St George in Monday night’s Semi Finals at the Anne Clark Centre. St George will now face Ku-ring-gai in the Preliminary Final after the latter defeated Eastwood Ryde in the Minor Semi Final.
Minor Semi Final: Ku-ring-gai 47 def Eastwood Ryde 37
Eastwood Ryde jumped out to an early lead scoring the opening three goals of the game, however Ku-ring-gai found their rhythm, not only moving the ball up the court with fluidity but through strong full-court defence, leading 10-6 with 3’ 20 to go in the first quarter. But like all Eastwood Ryde sides, they didn’t relent and flew home in the term to close the gap to within just two goals at the first break to trail 11-9.
Ku-ring-gai maintained their strong intensity during the second quarter, forcing their opponents into errors and pouncing on any lose balls
to extend their lead to 6-goals after 3 minutes of the quarter starting. An injury time-out to the Eastwood Ryde Centre in the fourth minute couldn’t halt the momentum of Ku-ring-gai whose attaching third were highly in tune with each other, pulling out to a 9-goal lead with 2’ 30 remaining, settling for a 25-18 half-time score.
It was a different Eastwood Ryde in the third quarter, with a noticeable lift in intensity across all areas of the court, led by their midcourt trio. Their shooting combination were converting all their opportunities and the scoreboard pressure seemed to affect Ku-ring-gai, who went into their shell as Eastwood Ryde sensed they could claw back the 8-goal half time deficit. With 4 minutes left, Eastwood had reduced the difference to just 4 goals, 31-27, but could’ve reduced it even further if they have converted on the whistle, instead they trailed 34-31.
Within 30 seconds of the restart it was a 2-goal game, 34-32, but Ku-ring-gai held their nerve and were precise with their possession, slowly extending their lead as the minutes ticked by; in the end it was a comfortable 47-37 win, meaning they progressed to the Preliminary Final.
Major Semi Final: Northern Suburbs 47 def St George 45
St George set the early pace racing out to a quick 3-0 lead, and it would be an advantage they would maintain throughout the opening quarter, heading into the first break 14-11.
There has been nothing between these two evenly match teams all season, with no better demonstration of this then the second quarter where it was ten goals apiece in the term. While the two GS’s were sublime on target, the two sets of players had to be patient to get their reward, with credit going to both sets of defenders who made the passage to goal difficult. While the half time score was 24-21, Northern Suburbs came within a goal of leveling on five occasions, but a mini run of goals by the Minor Premiers secured them a 3-goal main break advantage.
Two personnel changes at WA and GD, and a positional switch in the defensive circle by the Northern Suburbs coach at half time worked a charm, with the her chargers leveling the game, 26-all, after 3’ 30 of play. With the next centrepass, Northern Suburbs nudge ahead, and even a time-out by St George midway through the term did not stop the red and black’s hold on the term, extending their lead to 3-goals with less than 3 minutes to play. However, St George are a classy side and pegged back most of the deficit, but just weren’t able to drop a goal inside the remaining few seconds of the term to square the ledger, their opponents leading 36-35 at the final break.
With both sides making a further change each heading into the last 15 minutes, it was Northern Suburbs who continued their momentum in the quarter, extending their lead to 6-goals, 46-40, with 4 minutes remaining. To their credit, St George continued to fight but their left it too late, with Northern Suburbs booking their place in the Grand Final with a 47-45 victory.
St George will now meet Ku-ring-gai in the DOOLEYS State League Division Three Preliminary Final.