The NSW 21/U Team have suffered a heartbreaking Extra Time loss to Victoria, 66-60, in the Semi Final of the 2015 National Netball Championships on the Sunshine Coast.
After the scores were tied at the end of the regular 60 minutes, the teams were forced into two seven-minute halves of Extra Time to decide who would book their place in the 2015 Grand Final.
Head Coach Megan Simpson was naturally disappointed to miss out on the chance to contest for the Champions title, with NSW’s focus now on finishing the tournament with a win to claim third place.
“Victoria really pulled away in the end and we had our opportunities but they were just hungrier for the ball and I think the pressure just got to us in the end,” Simpson said.
“That being said I’m really proud of the team that they were able to carry on and play Extra Time – especially at the end of a long week of netball – because that’s a really tough position to be in and certainly proud of the fact that they finished strong.
“We’ll certainly be looking to cement that third place and finish off the tournament with a win. But not only that, it will be good for the girls to finish on a high note after a tough week – finish on a high note, put out a good performance so we can finish as a happy group,” Simpson concluded.
It was a nervous start from NSW for the sudden-death final with VIC pouncing on some turnovers to take a slim early lead. The Vics used their tried-and-true ‘Box’ defence – setting up a wall on the transverse with two circle defenders sitting behind – that confused the space for the NSW attackers. With their shooters not seeing a lot of ball, NSW went into the first break looking at a three-goal deficit.
After settling late in the quarter, the Sky Blues looked to maintain their momentum into the second quarter. Their work ethic was incredible, led by vital intercepts from Vice Captain Maddie Hay and terrific one-on-one defence from GK Kara Styles – who gave away 15cm to her opponent Jane Cook – and with seven minutes until half-time NSW hit the lead.
VIC made two changes during the quarter looking to combat NSW’s momentum however the Sky Blues outscored their opponents 19 goals to 12 to take their lead into half-time.
VIC enjoyed a strong start to the second half by posting back-to-back goals but it would be as close as NSW would allow them; dogged in defence and patient in attack, NSW worked as a team to find their rhythm and continue to push.
Captain Kaitlyn Bryce led from the front and with five minutes until three quarter time VIC called a timeout with NSW’s scoreboard advantage out to eight goals. The unscheduled break looked to disrupt the Sky Blues momentum, with VIC regathering to score consecutive goals to pull back the deficit; however NSW were able to maintain their four-goal lead at the final break.
Again NSW enjoyed a solid start to the quarter, pushing out their lead to six goals before VIC Captain Maggie Lind called a timeout. The atmosphere was electric as benches barked instructions to their teammates on court; intensity rising as the minutes ticked over.
VIC found some rhythm by stringing together goals to get within two goals, setting up a goal-for-goal run between the two teams. A costly turnover saw VIC even the scoreboard with under three minutes to play, setting up an intense finale. The scores were locked, 53-53, after 60 minutes forcing the game into Extra Time.
The 2014 Runners-Up came out all guns blazing for Extra Time, with an awkward landing to Georgia M. Marshall forcing Simpson to make her first changes for the match by bringing on Brooke Lawrence to C and moving Bryce to WA. But VIC had the momentum to take a handy 5-goal lead into the final Extra Time period.
With players spent, VIC pounced on possession gains to post a heartbreaking 66-60 victory over NSW to book their spot in the 2015 Grand Final.
NSW will now meet hosts Queensland in the Preliminary Final tomorrow at 12:20pm AEDST to decide third place at Caloundra Indoor Stadium.
Follow Netball NSW’s social media channels for live updates throughout the game – facebook.com/OfficialNetballNSW and @netballnsw on both Twitter and Instagram.
Watch highlights from the match, including interview with Megan Simpson, below;
NSW│ Q1: 9 – Q2: 28 (19) – Q3: 41 (13) – Q4: 53 (12) – ET 1: 56 (5) – ET 2: 60 (4)
VIC│ Q1: 12 – Q2: 24 (12) – Q3: 37 (13) – Q4: 53 (16) – ET 1: 61 (8) – ET 2: 66 (5)
NSW: 60/76 @ 79%
K. Brice: 57/66 @ 86%
G. Marshall: 3/10 @ 30%
VIC: 67/81 @ 83%
J. Cook: 63/69 @ 91%
M. Morrison: 0/1 @ 0%
A. Hamill: 4/11 @ 36%
NSW│ GS Kristina Brice, GA Georgia Marshall, WA Georgia M. Marshall, C Kaitlyn Bryce (c), WD Maddie Hay (vc), GD Billie Gurr, GK Kara Styles
VIC│ GS Jane Cook, GA Madeline Morrison, WA Maggie Lind (c), C Molly Jovic, WD Melissa Bragg, GD Kate Eddy, GK Leah Reilly
NSW│ ET 1 Timeout – WA Bryce, C Brooke Lawrence;
VIC│ Q2 Timeout – GA Anastasia Hamill; Q2 Timeout (2) – GK Maddy Balson; Q3 – WA Jovic, C Lind; Q4 Timeout – WA Lind, C Lara Dunkley, WD Jovic;