The NSW 17/U Team have finished Runners-Up of the 2015 National Netball Championships after going down to a determined Queensland outfit, 27-24, in today’s Grand Final.
Despite leaving nothing on court, NSW couldn’t chase down QLD’s first-quarter performance.
Whilst disappointed not to get the Grand Final win in front of their home crowd, Head Coach Moira Gaha was full of praise for her NSW charges saying it was their attitude throughout the tournament that brought them to the title-decider.
“It was a fantastic game and the girls really gave it everything they had – they’ve all given everything all week,” Gaha said.
“They set out to finish what they started; leaving nothing undone, give 100 percent, and just keeping going and backing each other up as a team. They’ve been a fantastic team to work with right from the word go.
“I’m incredibly proud of them, and the great staff I’ve been able to work with… it’s been a wonderful week and great to have the crowd behind us, just sorry we couldn’t get that win for them today,” Gaha concluded.
QLD scored a turnover in the opening seconds to convert NSW’s first centre pass, taking the lead and psychological edge early. However the Blues weren’t to be discouraged, keeping calm and putting pressure on their opponents to score their own possession gain to convert.
An injury scare went through the QLD camp with their GS Binnian Hunt going down, however after receiving some medical attention returned to the court full of fire power. But it was her shooting partner Rhylee Holland who was the star under the post, nailing long-range bombs to help her side to a six goal lead at the first break.
Despite the deficit NSW wouldn’t be deterred, scoring the first three unanswered goals in part to some fantastic defensive pressure including a QLD held-ball. But the visitors hit back quickly, pulling back out to a six-goal advantage with five minutes until half time.
But NSW didn’t give up, continuing to work hard to turn over possession and convert on the scoreboard. In the end nothing could separate the two sides during the second quarter with QLD maintaining their six-goal advantage.
Both coaches made their first changes for the match, with NSW switching midcourt pair Tayla Fraser and Captain Kristen Kessler to WA and C, respectively – meanwhile QLD brought on GA Alexia Baker. While the change gave a different dynamic to the attacking end, it didn’t stop QLD’s dogged one-on-one defence which made NSW work hard for every pass.
Kessler led from the front as Captain, throwing her body into every contest and notching up two vital intercepts for her side to convert. However try as they might NSW could not get within the magic six goal mark as they headed into the final 10 minutes.
Gaha introduced Tamara Black to GS while reverting back to Kessler-Fraser combination she began with. Looking at a large deficit at limited time to chase it down, NSW threw everything into the contest willing to get a win. However still trailing by six goals halfway through the quarter the assignment began to look too grand.
But the Blues’ determination couldn’t be questioned as they never gave up, pushing hard until the final whistle. After a late timeout allowed Gaha to make final changes to her line-up, a reinvigorated NSW entered the court and within 45 seconds had pulled back the deficit to within three.
However their fightback was a little too late with QLD holding strong to claim victory and be crowned 2015 17/U National Champions.
NSW│ Q1: 2 – Q2: 10 (8) – Q3: 14 (4) – Q4: 24 (10)
QLD│ Q1: 8 – Q2: 16 (8) – Q3: 20 (4) – Q4: 27 (7)
NSW: 24/33 @ 73%
V. Jukic: 11/19 @ 58%
L. Towell: 9/10 @ 90%
T. Black: 4/4 @ 100%
QLD: 27/33 @ 82%
B. Hunt: 10/13 @ 77%
R. Holland: 13/15 @ 87%
A. Baker: 4/5 @ 80%
NSW│ GS Veronika Jukic, GA Laura Towell (co-VC), WA Kristen Kessler (C), C Tayla Fraser, WD Demi Evans, GD Lauren Moore (co-VC), GK Teigan O’Shannassy
QLD │ GS Binnian Hunt, GA Rhylee Holland, WA Jada Gafa, C Claudia Fitzpatrick, WD Maddy Hinchliffe, GD Kate Jenner, GK Tara Hinchcliffe (C)
NSW│ Q3 – WA Fraser, C Kessler; Q4 – GS Tamara Black, WA Kessler, C Fraser; Q4 Timeout – C Evans, WD Kirra Jones.
QLD │ Q3 – GA Alexia Baker.