Hunter Division 1 winners Newcastle have claimed their second consecutive Inter-Regional State League titles after defeating Orange, 47-35, in today’s Grand Final at Netball Central.
It what was a rematch of last year’s title decider, Orange couldn’t reverse the result despite a courageous effort following two days of netball featuring the State’s best regional talent. Despite trailing by one at the first break, Newcastle rallied to finish on top and claim back-to-back Champion titles.
Newcastle Head Coach Maria Hoad said the second time round feels sweeter after the team has enjoyed a successful season to date.
“The girls have trained really hard across the last two years that I’ve been involved with the side, and they’ve experienced a really successful 2015 season which has been capped off with today’s win,” Hoad said.
“To win Hunter Regional State League and come here [to Inter-Regional] and have tough, hard-fought competition all weekend has been really great – the girls have really stepped it up when they’ve been challenged, they play well together and really enjoy each other’s company.
“They’re beautiful girls and it’s been an absolute pleasure to coach them this year,” Hoad concluded.
Both Grand Finalists made strong statements early by putting on strong defensive pressure to limit a free-flowing transition through the midcourt. The defending Champions were the first to find the post, but it would be Orange who would settle into the match to gain early ascendency.
However Newcastle weren’t to be out-done, working hard to switch momentum and take the lead. It set up a real arm-wrestle contest as the lead changed hands as the first break closed in; Orange eventually taking a one-goal advantage into quarter time.
The Hunter representatives opted for a mobile shooting circle, which worked the circle in tandem to keep their opposition defenders busy – the Newcastle GS/Orange GK match-up in particular a thrill for spectators.
The contests extended across the court and slowly-but-surely Newcastle began to make their move. Capitalising on some rare inaccuracy under the post from Orange, Newcastle found themselves out by six goals halfway through the second quarter.
But the experienced Orange-side, who this year claimed their 20th consecutive West/Central West title, weren’t to be discouraged. Quickly posting three unanswered goals the 2014 Runners-Up made their move on the scoreboard as the physical pressure began to increase across the court.
However their efforts were short-lived as Newcastle put on a strong defensive showing, limit Orange to just seven goals for the quarter all the while doubling their own tally to push their lead back out to six goals at the big break.
Newcastle continued their momentum into the second half by scoring the opening two goals before Orange found an answer. Using their speed, Newcastle worked hard to find space and weren’t afraid of moving the ball patiently as they forced their opposition on the back foot.
Yet just as they’d shown throughout the game, Orange weren’t to be outdone. Finding their own purple patch Orange began to narrow the margin on the scoreboard – slowly chipping away to stay in touch with the defending Champions.
Alas Newcastle went on to win their second consecutive quarter by three goals to further extend their advantage on the scoreboard to nine goals as the match headed into the final 15 minutes.
With their title-winning chances hinging on the final quarter, both teams re-entered the match full of gusto. The resulting contest provided great entertainment for spectators who willed their teams to victory. Orange’s shooting end worked the angles to find an opening, whilst Newcastle found success in the baseline drive.
With 10 minutes on the clock Orange had found some drive and clawed the deficit back to seven goals, however a wayward pass prevented them from getting any closer as Newcastle got back on the offensive.
Despite the best efforts, time was the enemy for Orange as Newcastle finished off the match with a streak of unanswered goals to finish 12-goal victors.
Wagga Wagga finished the competition in third place after surviving a tough contest from Quirindi in both teams’ first appearance at the Inter-Regional State League competition. The Riverina Champions claimed a tight two-goal victory, 44-42, in the entertaining contest, with Quirindi giving it everything in the match.
Sapphire Coast finished the tournament in fifth place, with Netball NSW thanking Western Sydney Academy of Sport for participating as an invitational side this season.
2015 Inter-Regional State League – Final Placings
3. Wagga Wagga
5. Sapphire Coast
GRAND FINAL: Newcastle v Orange
NEWCASTLE│ Q1: 9 – Q2: 23 (14) – Q3: 35 (12) – Q4: 47 (12)
ORANGE│ Q1: 10 – Q2: 17 (7) – Q3: 26 (9) – Q4: 35 (9)
NEWCASTLE: 47/54 @ 87%
ORANGE: 35/51 @ 69%
3RD PLACE PLAY-OFF: Wagga Wagga v Quirindi
WAGGA WAGGA│ Q1: 12 – Q2: 24 (12) – Q3: 35 (11) – Q4: 44 (9)
QUIRINDI│ Q1: 11 – Q2: 21 (10) – Q3: 33 (12) – Q4: 42 (9)
WAGGA WAGGA: 45/62 @ 70%
QUIRINDI: 42/54 @ 78%