The Netball NSW (NNSW) Waratahs will return to Victoria for the second week in a row when they head to Melbourne’s Waverley Netball Centre to contest the 2014 Australian Netball League (ANL) Finals this weekend.
The NNSW Waratahs have featured in all but one Finals Series since the competition’s inception in 2008, and 2014 is the side’s fifth consecutive Finals Series appearance.
“We’re really excited to be contesting Finals this weekend. The girls have worked really hard throughout the last few months … they’re a great bunch and have represented NSW with pride,” NNSW Waratahs Head Coach Anita Keelan said.
The side finished the regular season in fourth place and will come up against ladder leaders and defending Champions Victorian Fury, who are on a 21-game winning streak stretching back to the start of the 2013 season.
The traditional rivals will meet in the first Semi Final at 5pm AEST on Saturday 23 August – exactly one week after the Fury maintained their perfect 2014 record with a 90-minute, double Extra Time victory over the NNSW Waratahs, 71-69.
“It was an incredibly tough match last weekend in Melbourne, however it gives us confidence knowing we can match it with them; no other team has come as close to defeating the Fury in the past two seasons,” Keelan said.
“In the end it was only a couple of unforced errors that proved the difference, but we have gone back and studied the footage. As long as the girls do their best, that’s all we can ask of them.”
The winner of the first Semi Final will go through to the 2014 decider on Sunday 24 August, while the other will play-off for third place. Western Sting (2nd) and Queensland Fusion (3rd) will compete for the remaining Grand Final spot when they go head-to-head in the second Semi Final at 7pm.
It is the first time since 2011 the QLD side has featured in the Finals Series, whilst the Sting return to Finals action for the first time since 2012, when they finished third.
“All three Finalists are good, experienced sides, and they’ve played some impressive netball throughout the season. At the end of the day we’ve got nothing to lose, so will be looking to leave everything out on court,” Keelan concluded.
2013 World Youth Championship silver medallist and NNSW Waratahs shooter Kristina Brice finished the regular season as the competition’s top scorer, putting up 420 goals at 95 percent accuracy in nine appearances.
Brice is closing in on the ANL record of 461 goals in a full season (including Finals) set by 2013 Victorian Fury shooter and Australian Netball League Player of the Year Mwai Kumwenda. Brice finished the regular season 29 goals above Kumwenda’s 2013 regular season tally, and is 184 goals ahead of her nearest rival in 2014, Australian underage teammate and 2014 NSW Swift Gretel Tippett with 236 goals at 77 percent accuracy for the Fusion.
Brice’s shooting partner Leah Shoard will miss the 2014 ANL Finals Series after sustaining a knee injury last round. Shoard is being assessed by medical staff to discover the extent of the injury.
Keep up to date with all the action on the road with Netball NSW’s social media channels; www.facebook.com/OfficialNetballNSW, Twitter and Instagram @netballnsw #ANL2014 #GoNSW
|2014 Australian Netball League – Finals Series Fixture|
|Waverley Netball Centre, Melbourne VIC|
|Sat 23 August||VIC Fury v NNSW Waratahs @ 5pm*|
|Western Sting v QLD Fusion @ 7pm|
|Sun 24 August||Preliminary Final (3rd Place Play-off) @ 10am|
|Grand Final @ 12pm|
*all times AEST