Thrilling Div 2 Semis see Sutherland advance to Grand Final

Minor Premiers Sutherland Shire have a chance at the double after securing their place in the 2015 DOOLEYS State League Division 2 Grand Final after posting a thrilling 46-45 victory over Northern Suburbs.

Scores were locked with seconds to spare, with Sutherland converting the winning goal with just two seconds on the clock – sending the Shire side directly into the title decider.

Goal percentage was all that separated the two sides at the conclusion of the regular season, and the Semi Final was a fitting contest with the leading changes hands at various times during the match.

Northern Suburbs still have a chance to feature in the title decider when they come up against Eastwood Ryde in next week’s Preliminary Final after Eastwood overcame St George 60-58 in Extra Time to advance another week into Finals Series.

Major Semi Final: Sutherland Shire 46 d Northern Suburbs 45

After goal percentage was the only thing to separate the two sides at the conclusion of the regular season, it was an early win for Sutherland Shire (SSNA) when they turned over Northern Suburbs (NSNA) first centre pass in the opening seconds to put up the first back-to-back goals.

However scrappy play featured in both attacking ends, with wayward passes lifting the pressure off defenders as SSNA and NSNA took time to settled into the first match of the 2015 Finals Series. It would be SSNA who would find their rhythm first with the Minor Premiers pulling out to a handy advantage to force their opponents into chase mode.

SSNA were patient when in possession, their feeders not afraid off going back to their transverse line before waiting for a gap to find their shooters. After going into the first break down by two, a rejuvenated NSNA came out for the second 15 minutes to even scores early.

After introducing a new Goal Attack, NSNA showed speed and determination as they chased down SSNA’s lead – they showed courage with long, hard passes into the circle for NSNA’s shooters to capitalise.

The pattern would continue as the clock counted down towards half-time; SSNA would get out to a handy lead, before NSNA strung together consecutive goals to pull it back, with both team’s fans enjoying an athletic display.

SSNA were able to finish out the first half strongest, with NSNA cruelly denied by the half-time whistle to trail the Minor Premiers by four goals at the big break.

Sniffing a spot in the 2015 title decider, SSNA came out all guns blazing for the start of the second half after outscoring their opponents eight goals to four by the halfway mark of the third quarter – largely in part to the terrific defensive work from their circle pair.

But again, NSNA would force their way back into the contest and with less than two minutes until the final break had fought their way back to within one goal of the Minor Premiers. Back and forth the two sides traded goals, with SSNA causing a crucial turnover to post consecutive goals.

A NSNA attempt bounced out of the ring in the dying seconds, see SSNA maintain their four goal advantage into the final 15 minutes.

Players threw everything at the contest, willing themselves to push through fatigue. Whilst SSNA looked in control as the clock ticked towards the final whistle, slowly but surely NSNA mounted a comeback.

With under two minutes to play NSNA had taken back the lead, but it would be short-lived as SSNA strung together back-to-back goals to get back in front with under 50 seconds remaining. With NSNA converting their centre pass the scores were locked again, with SSNA’s Goal Shooter shooting the winning goal with two seconds to spare.

Quarter-by-Quarter Scores
SSNA│ Q1: 12 – Q2: 25 (13) – Q3: 38 (13) – Q4: 46 (8)
NSNA│ Q1: 10 – Q2: 21 (11) – Q3: 34 (13) – Q4: 45 (11)


Minor Semi Final: Eastwood Ryde 60 d St George 58 (Extra Time)

Nothing could separate the two sides as they traded goals for much of the opening quarter. With both Eastwood Ryde (ERNA) and St George (StGNA) opting to use their speed and agile shooting combinations, quick transitional match play was key to catch defenders off-guard.

With the dogged defensive pressure, ERNA found themselves getting out to a handy lead late in the opening quarter, but StGNA wouldn’t be discouraged as they regathered late in the opening quarter to get back on even terms.

This trend continued into the second 15 minutes as the intensity never faltered; both ERNA and StGNA displaying strong defensive hand-over pressure down the court to force the turnover.

Maintaining their dogged determination, StGNA soon had taken the lead and would continue to work hard in defence for their shooters to capitalise.  But once again ERNA would work hard, and in the shadows of half-time were able to draw scores level once again.

A goal in the dying seconds gave StGNA a slight one-goal advantage at the big break, leading ERNA 26-25.

Taking their momentum into the second half, ERNA were able to take back the lead through some terrific defensive work as well as accuracy from their shooters. But as the tempo of the game had shown before, StGNA forced their way back into the contest setting up a thrilling contest of see-sawing goals – every possession crucial for the shooters to capitalise.

A goal to Australian 17/U shooter Veronika Jukic in the dying seconds gave ERNA the lead at three quarter time; albeit by just one goal, 39-38.

The two Finalists continued to put on a thrilling contest for spectators as neither could gain ascendency over the other. Back and forth the teams traded goals, the lead never extending past two goals.  With under 30 seconds on the clock the scores were tied once more, StGNA turning over possession in ERNA’s shooting circle for a shot at the win.

But ERNA’s defenders were equally up to the challenge, taking a critical intercept to send the game into Extra Time.

Players were run off their feet, with fatigue playing a huge factor as the intensity continued for an extra 14 minutes. Spectators were on their feet in full voice, willing their teams to go that bit further, and it was ERNA who were able to get back out to a handy two goal buffer; but StGNA never looked like giving up the fight.

With momentum ERNA quickly jumped out to a four goal lead, but it was just as quickly chased down by StGNA – the intensity was tangible at Netball Central! Back and forth the goals see-sawed from end to end as ERNA wouldn’t allow their opposition any closer than a goal.

With Jukic slotting a goal in the final 30 seconds, and a crucial intercept from her defensive teammate in StGNA’s shooting circle, ERNA were able to finish two goal victors to progress to the Preliminary Final against Northern Suburbs.

Quarter-by-Quarter Scores
ERNA│ Q1: 14 – Q2: 25 (11) – Q3: 39 (14) – Q4: 48 (9) – ET 1: 54 (6) – ET 2: 60 (6)
StGNA│ Q1: 14 – Q2: 26 (12) – Q3: 38 (12) – Q4: 48 (10) – ET 1: 52 (4) – ET 2: 58 (6)

2015 DOOLEYS State League – Division 2 Fixtures/Results
Wed 8 July 7:00pm Major Semi Final Sutherland Shire 46 d Northern Suburbs 45
    Minor Semi Final Eastwood Ryde 60 d St George 58 (ET)
Wed 15 July 7:00pm Preliminary Final Northern Suburbs v Eastwood Ryde
Wed 22 July 7:00pm Grand Final Sutherland Shire v Winner Preliminary Final