St George claim maiden title

St George District Netball Association has capped off a fantastic 2014 DOOLEYS State League to be crowned the Waratah Cup Champions for the first time, overcoming defending Champions Eastwood Ryde, 52-38, in tonight’s Grand Final at the Anne Clark Centre.

St George Head Coach Moira Gaha couldn’t hide her ecstasy following the final whistle, heaping praise on her charges for not only tonight’s performance, but their 2014 season.

“We’ve said it before, [tonight’s Grand Final win is] history making for our District. This team has been an amazing team to coach right from the word go … they support each other on and off the court, and it’s just so exciting, so deserving for all 12 girls,” Gaha said.

“Coming into [the Grand Final] it was one game apiece [with Eastwood Ryde]; they are a quality side with experience but I just knew these girls are so determined, they’ve worked hard week in, week out.

“We worked hard obviously in the first two [quarters] and then went in [to the third] saying we wanted to consolidate, as Eastwood had come back. The girls then set about putting I think something we’ve worked really hard on, which is the full court pressure defensively … and that was our thing – do what we’ve been doing well all year and play our own game, and enjoy it,” Gaha concluded.

A turnover in the first few minutes gave the Minor Premiers an early advantage over Eastwood, pulling out to as much as three goals. However the defending Champions worked hard and by halfway through the opening quarter had pulled level.

Australian 21/U squad member Kristiana Manu’a was on song early for St George, with the Netball NSW Waratah defender getting slight touches to turn over the ball. Her attacking teammates didn’t let Manu’a down, with shooting partners Holly Pearce and Kimberly Borger finding the post; St George Captain and former NSW Swift Borger showing off her athletic standing jump.

Finishing the opening 15 minutes strongly, St George took a four-goal lead into the first break.

St George’s defence was unforgiving, with all seven players putting pressure on every Eastwood pass and run of play. The tactic saw the Minor Premiers pull away by seven goals five minutes into the second quarter, with no sign of relinquishing.

However the defending Champions were no strangers to pressure and, using their extensive playing experience to their advantage, worked the ball patiently to stay in touch with St George. Eastwood began to make their move, putting up three unanswered goals, however the buzzer denied them a fourth; St George holding a three-goal buffer at halftime, 22-19.

Once again it was St George to open the scoring, with back-to-back goals to extend their lead at the beginning of the second half. Eastwood – who were the only side to make a change at half-time, bringing on Laura McLaren to GD – made a few early errors and St George pounced on the opportunity, opening out to an eight goal lead before a timeout was called.

The break couldn’t stem St George’s momentum, the Minor Premiers outscoring Eastwood Ryde 15 goals to seven in the third quarter to open out to a comfortable 11-goal advantage at the final break.

Eastwood made further changes for the final quarter, bringing on Amy Sommerville and Tanisha Stanton from the bench to GS and WA, respectively, while Jessica Calderara came back on to the GD bib. With their hopes at back-to-back Waratah Cup titles on the line, Eastwood threw everything into the contest.

After being down by as many as 15 goals, the defending Champions made a strong push halfway through the final quarter, led by NSW 21/U Captain Sommerville in the shooting circle. With the 21-year-old finding the post from short and long range, Eastwood chipped away at the scoreboard.

But St George showed why they were the Minor Premiers; having lost just once this season, the team in Red never took their foot off the pedal. With their maiden Division One trophy in sight, St George finished strongly to claim a 14-goal victory and title of 2014 DOOLEYS State League Waratah Cup Champions.

St George’s Belynda Loveday was recognised as the game’s most valuable player when presented with the Netball NSW President’s Medal following the match.

Quarter-by-Quarter Scores
ST GEORGE│ Q1: 14 – Q2: 22 (8) – Q3: 37 (15) – Q4: 52 (15)
EASTWOOD│ Q1: 10 – Q2: 19 (9) – Q3: 26 (7) – Q4: 38 (12)

Shooting Statistics
ST GEORGE: 52/66 @ 79% Kimberly Borger: 28/37 @ 76% Holly Pearce: 24/29 @ 83%

EASTWOOD: 38/47 @ 81% Sally Cain: 10/13 @ 77% Joanne Day: 20/23 @ 87% Amy Sommerville: 8/11 @ 73%

Teams Starting Line-ups
ST GEORGE│ GS Kimberly Borger (c), GA Holly Pearce, WA Kaitlyn Bryce, C Belynda Loveday, WD Katie Maguire, GD Nicole Styles, GK Kristiana Manu’a

EASTWOOD│ GS Sally Cain, GA Joanne Day (c), WA Tiffany Normand, C Emily Keenan, WD Sophie Halpin, GD Jessica Calderara, GK Jessica Mansell

Positional Changes
EASTWOOD│ Q3 – GD Laura McLaren; Q4 – GS Amy Sommerville, WA Tanisha Stanton, GD Calderara.