The NSW 21/U Team have finished the 2015 National Netball Championships in fourth place after going down to Queensland, 50-40, in the Play-Off Final on the Sunshine Coast.
The win came off the back from some brilliant defensive pressure by the hosts, who kept NSW to their lowest score for the tournament.
While there was an air of disappointment on not finishing the week off with a win, Head Coach Megan Simpson said she had no doubt the players would learn from their Finals exposure.
“Obviously we would have wanted to finish the week on a positive note, but QLD were really good and brought a large and vocal crowd to back them today,” Simpson said.
“I’ve no doubt the players will learn from this experience. We had our chances, not just in today’s game but throughout the tournament, and while we showed moments of brilliance we just really lacked that consistency.
“That being said it’s been an absolute delight to work with these athletes and staff this week, and in the months of training building up to this week. We’ve had a lot of fun, we’ve worked hard, and we’re a solid unit and it’s been my absolute pleasure to be Head Coach,” Simpson concluded.
It was an untidy start from NSW however QLD didn’t use the possession gains to their advantage allowing the Sky Blues to stay in touch. QLD enjoyed a large home crowd, including Queensland Academy of Sport Netball Team who were full of voice down the NSW attacking end.
Still NSW worked well and while QLD came back to even the score late in the quarter, the Sky Blues didn’t lose sight. With the teams trading goals they went into the first break tied, 12-12.
This trend continued into the second 15 minutes with neither side able to gain ascendency until QLD slowly began to find some rhythm and opened up a small – but handy – three goal advantage. Still NSW wouldn’t settle into a lull, working hard to turnover ball with GK Kara Styles once again starring down back against an tall and agile QLD attack.
With four minutes until the big break QLD called a timeout with NSW pulling back to get within one goal. Again the teams traded goals, until a late surge from the hosts saw them take back their three goal lead into the half-time break.
Both teams opted to make their first changes for the start of the second half, with Simpson mixing up her attacking line by bringing on Stephanie MacGougan and Claudia Russell to GA and WA, respectively.
But it was QLD that came out firing, led by their Captain and QLD Firebird Beryl Friday who had her eye in at the post. With NSW struggling to control their pace QLD slowly pulled their lead out to seven goals. With the hosts calling a timeout late in the quarter Simpson used the opportunity to swap her defensive pair, bringing on Celeste Carnegie to GK whilst moving Styles to GD.
Whilst the changes didn’t help NSW pull back the scoreboard deficit, it did plug the floodgates with QLD taking their 7-goal advantage into the final quarter.
But those floodgates opened again for the fourth quarter with QLD, backed by a vocal home crowd, put their foot down through some tight defensive work and quick ball transition through the court. Despite MacGougan providing a target for NSW in the circle with Kristina Brice being taken out of the contest, QLD were too good to go on and post a 10-goal victory to claim third place.
Next up Victoria will meet the defending Champions South Australia – who are on a 20-game winning streak that strwetches back to Round 2 of the 2013 21/U National Netball Championships! – in the Grand Final to decide who will be crowned the 2015 Champions.
Following the conclusion of the Gold Medal match, Netball Australia will announce the athletes who have been selected in the Australian 21/U Squad.
NSW│ Q1: 12 – Q2: 22 (10) – Q3: 31 (9) – Q4: 40 (9)
QLD│ Q1: 12 – Q2: 25 (13) – Q3: 38 (13) – Q4: 50 (12)
NSW: 40/52 @ 77%
K. Brice: 34/40 @ 85%
G. Marshall: 1/4 @ 25%
S. MacGougan: 5/8 @ 62%
QLD: 50/66 @ 76%
J. Power: 22/30 @ 73%
B. Friday: 28/36 @ 78%
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
QLD│ GS Jemmason Power, GA Beryl Friday (c), WA Mahalia Cassidy, C Kristen Oxenford, WD Madeline McAuliffe, GD Hulita Haukinima, GK Leah Middleton
NSW│ Q3 – GA Stephanie MacGougan, WA Claudia Russell; Q3 Timeout – GD Styles, GK Celeste Carnegie.
QLD│ Q3 – WA Dominique Scott, C Cassidy.