Eastwood advance to 2015 Grand Final

Eastwood Ryde have secured their place in the 2015 DOOLEYS State League Waratah Cup Grand Final after defeating Sutherland Shire, 54-45, in tonight’s Preliminary Final at Netball Central.

It will be Eastwood’s fourth consecutive appearance in the pinnacle match, having finished Runners-Up to St George in 2014.  They will now meet the Minor Premiers City of Sydney/Sydney Uni next Wednesday 24 June at 7:00pm.

Just as they’d shown during their respective Semi Finals the week before, both sides deployed a strong hands-over defence to create strong pressure over every pass.  The result saw plenty of early turnovers, however neither side could capitalise on the possession gains.

It set up a see-sawing battle with both attacking ends working overtime to get the ball into their shooters; but even then, the hands-over pressure of the circle defenders meant even accurate shots on goal were not easy.

An injury concern interrupted play with just over five minutes until the first break, with Eastwood’s Emily Keenan colliding with Sutherland Goal Keeper Hannah Lee mid-air.  The resulting crash looked dire for the tough-as-nails Keenan, with the match continuing without her.  Despite a goal on the buzzer to Australian 19/U representative Kiera Austin, Sutherland went into the first break with the advantage.

Not one to go out quietly, Eastwood came out firing for the second quarter – setting their intentions for the rest of the sudden-death final. By the five minute mark they had taken back the lead after enjoying a purple patch that saw them score five consecutive goals.

Sutherland, their charge led by Australian 21/U representative Maddie Hay, did well to stay in touch by providing strong ball into their moving, mobile shooting circle, but they could do little to stem the furious speed of the Eastwood midcourt with Jacqueline Rikard-Bell stepping up in the Centre bib.

After calling a timeout Sutherland made wholesale changes to their line in order to combat Eastwood’s momentum, however the Gold & Blues were able to pull out to a seven goal buffer at the half-time break.

It was a scrappy start to the second half with no less than four turnovers seeing possession change hands before Sutherland’s Goal Shooter Braeden Quince found the post.  While Sutherland were able to find the first goal, it did little to disrupt Eastwood’s momentum who continued to push out their lead.

19/U National Netball Championships Tournament MVP Toni Anderson was a revelation after being moved to Wing Defence, with the tall defender getting vital tips and intercepts to gain possession for her Sutherland teammates. As the game closed in on three-quarter time, Sutherland began to find their form and had drawn back to a four-goal deficit before a timeout called from Eastwood’s Rikard-Bell.

Following a burst in momentum, Sutherland were able to turn around a 10-plus goal deficit during the third quarter to trail by just two at the final break.

Eastwood marked their intentions for the final 15 minutes early, with freshly-moved Goal Shooter Amy Sommerville sinking two long-range back-to-back goals before her partner Austin – who had switched to Goal Attack – produced another to extend their lead to four goals in the opening three minutes.

With their season on the line, players on both sides threw themselves into every contest to produce an enthralling battle which had spectators in full voice. Eastwood Goal Defence Jess Calderara continued her impressive form as she continued to work hard in Sutherland’s circle to turnover possession, creating plenty of chances for her teammates down the other end to capitalise.

In the end despite a small window of fightback from Sutherland, the Preliminary Final was all one-way traffic as Eastwood finished nine-goal victors to book their spot in the 2015 Grand Final.

Quarter-by-Quarter Scores
ERNA│ Q1: 12 – Q2: 28 (16) – Q3: 37 (9) – Q4: 54 (17)
SSNA │ Q1: 13 – Q2: 21 (8) – Q3: 35 (14) – Q4: 45 (10)

2015 DOOLEYS State League – Waratah Cup Finals Series
Wed 10 June 8:30pm Major Semi Final City of Sydney/Syd Uni 55 d Eastwood Ryde 41
    Minor Semi Final Sutherland Shire 59 d St George 47
Wed 17 June 8:30pm Preliminary Final Eastwood Ryde 54 d Sutherland Shire 45
Wed 24 June 7:00pm Grand Final City of Sydney/Syd Uni v Eastwood Ryde