The Netball NSW (NNSW) Blues came close, but couldn’t overcome the Victorian Flames at home for the 2014 Australian Netball League (ANL), going down 49-45 during Week 3 action at the Waverley Netball Centre.
It was a topsy-turvy game for the young NSW outfit, where momentum ebbed and flowed for much of the 60 minutes. Despite the result, NNSW Blues Head Coach Briony Akle said she was proud to see her charges grow in each appearance.
“Naturally I’m disappointed with the loss, but what I am proud of is the fact the team were able to address some of the issues we had from last night’s game [29 goal loss to Victorian Fury] and correct them tonight,” Akle said.
“Our premise before departing for Melbourne was to build in every appearance this weekend, and I certainly saw that tonight. We are doing some good stuff out on court, but now we just have to start finishing them off.
“It was a good building block – the Flames played really well – and puts us in good stead leading into tomorrow’s final game of the weekend,” Akle concluded.
It was a strong start to the game from the NNSW Blues with the visitors pulling out to a 4-nil lead before the home side could find the post. That had much to do with the terrific defensive effort from NSW’s young circle defenders, 17-year-old Toni Anderson in GD and 16-year-old Lauren Moore in GK.
However the Victorians were just as strong in defence and after taking a few minutes to settle into the match, the hosts stepped up their game. Taking three consecutive intercepts down back to deny NSW to advance on the scoreboard, the Flames flew out to a five goal lead.
But the young NSW side regathered, pulling level in the final minutes of the opening quarter to even the scoreboard at the first break.
Nothing could separate the two sides for much of the second quarter as the ball bounced from end to end with neither side getting the upper hand. An ambitious pass into NSW’s pocket was all it took to break the deadlock, with the Flames soon pulling out to a five goal lead with four minutes until half time.
A timeout gave the NNSW Blues an opportunity to make their first changes, switching team leaders Sophie Halpin and Nikki Degeenaars to WD and C, respectively, however the Victorians maintained a four goal buffer heading into the second half, 24-20.
Australian 17/U shooter Kiera Austin was given the GA bib for the second half, having an immediate impact for the NNSW Blues by taking an intercept and nailing her first three attempts in a matter of minutes. But the Victorians were just as on-song with the visitors unable to close the gap on the scoreboard.
Despite scoring three unanswered goals after a late timeout, the NNSW Blues trailed the Flames by two goals at the final break.
The Flames made further changes during three quarter time, including bringing on 198cm shooter Jane Cook to GS; her opponent, NSW’s Moore, giving away 14cm. However Moore’s teammates did the hard yards in front of her, putting pressure on the pass to limit the influence of the high ball feed.
The NSW attackers rewarded their defensive teammates’ hard work, converting their possession gains to pull back the deficit on the scoreboard. With two minutes to play the NNSW Blues trailed by just two goals, however the Flames weren’t to be outdone. Two quick goals from GS Cook again pulled the hosts lead out to four goals, which would be the final winning margin.
The NNSW Blues will be back on court tomorrow, Sunday 20 July, to take on the Southern Force at 10am. Keep up-to-date with the team’s progress through Netball NSW social media channels; www.facebook.com/OfficialNetballNSW Twitter and Instagram @netballnsw #ANL2014 #GoNSW
NNSW BLUES│ Q1: 12 – Q2: 20 (8) – Q3: 33 (13) – Q4: 45 (12)
VIC FLAMES│ Q1: 12 – Q2: 24 (12) – Q3: 35 (11) – Q4: 49 (14)
NNSW BLUES: 46/55 @ 84%
Claudia Russell: 12/15 @ 80%
Holly Pearce: 19/25 @ 76%
Kiera Austin: 15/15 @ 100%
VIC FLAMES: 49/57 @ 86%
Stacey Northey: 31/36 @ 86%
Gabrielle Stacey: 11/14 @ 79%
Jane Cook: 7/7 @ 100%
Teams Starting Line-up
NNSW BLUES│ GS Claudia Russell, GA Holly Pearce, WA Tanisha Stanton, C Sophie Halpin (c), WD Nikki Degeenaars, GD Toni Anderson, GK Lauren Moore
VIC FLAMES│ GS Stacey Northey, GA Gabrielle Stacey, WA Lauren Tscharke, C Ella Priestly, WD Melissa Bragg, GD Kelly Haynes, GK Emily Mannix
NNSW BLUES│ Q2 Timeout – C Degeenaars, WD Halpin; Q3 – GS Pearce, GA Kiera Austin.
VIC FLAMES│ Q3 – WA Priestly, C Clare Moylan, GD Kaitlyn Black; Q4 – GS Jane Cook, GA Northey, C Lara Dunkley, WD Chloe Watson (c).