GWS Fury are the 2019 Netball NSW Premier League U23 champions after beating the Manly Warringah Sapphires 60-52 in a thrilling Grand Final at Netball Central in Sydney Olympic Park on Tuesday night.
A dominant last quarter was the key to the win as GWS put the U20 Grand Final loss of 2018 behind them to take out the title.
Despite the score-line, it was a game that the Sapphires contributed immensely to, with only two goals between the sides at the end of three-quarter time. But in the end it was the Fury who showed the greatest resolve when the endgame was nigh.
Coming off a strong Preliminary Final win last week the Sapphires were the fastest out of the blocks, racing out to a 10-5 lead with strong defence upsetting the Minor Premiers.
But the second half of the opening period would belong to the Fury as their defence thwarted the Sapphires’ attack before some bullet passes into the shooting circle allowed Lauren Woods and Eliza Perkins give their team a 14-12 lead at the first break.
The second quarter wasn’t as fluid as the first but it didn’t mean there wasn’t impressive play on show. It was a period that ebbed and flowed from start to finish, and while GWS at times looked like pulling away, they couldn’t shake their opponents.
Good work in the midcourt by the likes of Chelsea Mann allowed the Sapphires stay on even terms over the course of the 15 minutes and heading to the big break there was still just two goals between the sides.
An early turnover and good accuracy soon had the Sapphires in the lead but they weren’t able to sustain the pressure as the third quarter went on. Heading into the last five minutes of the period the Fury had restored a three-goal lead but were wasteful with possession, allowing the Manly side to stay within striking range at the final break.
Great midcourt pressure allowed GWS claim a quick turnover at the start of the fourth quarter, and with it a five-goal advantage, however sloppy play in attack off the next centre pass saw the Sapphires strike straight back to reduce the margin to two.
But the blip only seemed to spark renewed intensity into GWS in all areas of the court. Before long they were dominating in attack and defence, and with a massive support behind them in the stands, they raced out to a 55-44 lead with five minutes left on the clock
The Sapphires gave everything in the final minutes but by that stage the title was beyond them and the night belonged to the team from the west.
Watch Grand Final replay
FURY | GS Lauren Woods, GA Eliza Perkins, WA Jessica Lagaaia, C Courtney Castle, WD Taylah Flood, GD Brooke Niccol, GK Violet Wetsteyn
SAPPHIRES | GS Katelyn Stansfield, GA Amber Brophy, WA Audrey Little, C Chelsea Mann, WD Jemma Donoghue, GD Maddy Melvelle, GK Charli Fidler
Quarter by quarter scores
FURY | Q1: 14, Q2: 28 (14), Q3: 42 (14), Q4: 60 (18)
SAPPHIRES | Q1: 12, Q2: 26 (14), Q3:40 (14), Q4: 52 (12)