NSW book place in Australian Netball League decider

The Netball NSW Waratahs have put together a solid 60 minute effort to defeat the Victorian Flames, 50-49, in the second Semi Final to book their spot in the 2013 Australian Netball League Grand Final tomorrow, Sunday 25 August, at 12pm.

Taking the reins in Sue Hawkins absence, NNSW Waratahs Assistant Coach Maria Lynch said it was nerve-wracking watching from the stands, but knew her charges had the tools to get the job done.

“The girls really had to dig deep today; we always knew it was going to be a tough one – NSW v VIC games are always classic battles – it’s just really exciting that at this point in the season that games are this close,” Lynch said.

“I am really proud the girls were able to put on this performance.  They held on really strongly, the composure was there when we needed, and our shooters just finished it off so well for us.”

“We were down at three quarter time, but we didn’t lower our heads – we knew if we could crack just one centre pass we were in, and we were able to do that early. We played a really smart game in the last quarter which is a credit to the whole unit,” Lynch concluded.

The NNSW Waratahs will now prepare to take on the ‘other’ Victorian team, the Fury, in tomorrow’s title decider.  Ironically the NNSW Waratahs and Fury opened the 2013 competition in Game 1 of Week 1, and will now close with a Champion crowned tomorrow.

Lynch said the Waratahs have improved dramatically since that first meeting and are pumped to head into their fourth consecutive ANL Grand Final.

“It’s the Grand Final; anything can happen! Both teams had it tough today, fighting out hard wins in their semis, so I think tomorrow will be a really exciting game. It’s incredible we are ending this competition with the same team we started, but we’ve improved heaps since that first meeting and ready to go one better tomorrow,” Lynch said.

The match started much like it finished, with the two sides trading goals for much of the opening quarter.  A late surge from the Flames saw them put on a mini run before the whistle was blown for the first break, seeing the Victorians with a four goal advantage over their old rivals NSW, 14-10.

The NSW side came out firing for the second quarter, and within seven minutes had levelled the score to 18-18.  The Flames called a timeout to disrupt the Waratahs flow, coming out and putting on a run of five goals to two to open up their lead.

After a timeout from NNSW Waratahs C Emily Keenan the NSW side regathered and were able to level the score once more.  This back and forth scoring played out for the remainder of the first half and despite the Waratahs outscoring the Flames 13 goals to 10, the Victorians took a slim one goal lead into the big break; 24-23.

Both coaches made their only changes for the match, with Lynch bringing on 2012 ANL Player of the Year Kristy Guthrie to WA while Stacey West brought on Ella Priestley to WD.  Guthrie made an immediate impact for the NSW side, with her experience and patience speaking volumes in the attacking end.

However with the pressure building with every minute unforced errors began to creep into the match.  The Victorians were the first to capitalise on the extra possession, opening up a handy four goal lead.

Through the tireless work of their defenders Elly Willan (GK), Captain Samantha May (GD) and Ashlee weir (WD), the NNSW Waratahs came back into the game to trail by just two goals at the final break, 37-35.

Nothing could separate the two sides in the final quarter; the pressure was on both the Waratahs and Flames shooters to miss, however they held their composure.  Putting up 15 goals from 16 attempts between them, NSW partners GS Mel Tallent and GA Leah Shoard led from the front to put their side ahead in the final minute.

With a nervous crowd on the edge of their seat for the final seconds, the NNSW Waratahs held strong to defeat the Flames by a single goal to advance to their fourth consecutive final.

Enjoying a well-deserved rest and recovery tonight, the NNSW Waratahs will take the court tomorrow, Sunday 25 August, at 12pm to take on the Victorian Fury to decide who will take home the 2013 ANL Champions title.

Keep up-to-date with all the ANL action this weekend by following Netball NSW social media channels.  We will be posting live score updates, photos, plus post-match interviews –www.facebook.com/OfficialNetballNSW,www.twitter.com/Netball_NSWwww.youtube.com/NetballNSWTV, and Instagram @netballnsw using #ANL #GoNSW

Quarter-by-Quarter Scores
NNSW WARATAHS Q1: 10 – Q2: 23 (13) – Q3: 35 (12) – Q4: 50 (15)
VIC FLAMES Q1: 14 – Q2: 24 (10) – Q3: 37 (13) – Q4: 49 (12)

Shooting Statistics
NNSW WARATAHS: 50/62 @ 81%
Mel Tallent: 26/32 @ 81%
Leah Shoard: 24/30 @ 80%

VIC FLAMES: 49/50 @ 82%
Kate Thompson: 28/34 @ 82%
Alice Teague-Neeld: 21/26 @ 81%

Teams Starting Positions
NNSW WARATAHS: GS Mel Tallent, GA Leah Shoard, WA Taylah Davies, C Emily Keenan, WD Ashlee Weir, GD Samantha May (c), Elly Willan

VIC FLAMES: GS Kate Thompson, GA Alice Teague-Neeld, WA Kelsey Browne, C Liz Watson (c), WD Chloe Watson, GD Kelly Haynes, GK Emily Mannix

Positional Changes
Q3 – WA Kristy Guthrie.

Q3 – WD Ella Priestley.