NSW head to Finals on back of NT win

The NSW 21/U Team have posted a confidence boosting 64-29 win over Northern Territory in their final regular round match of the 2015 National Netball Championships on the Sunshine Coast.

196cm shooter Kristina Brice led the way, scoring 43 goals in three-quarters to set up the commanding win as NSW now focus their attentions on the Finals Series starting tomorrow, Saturday 14 March, at Caloundra Indoor Stadium.

Head Coach Megan Simpson said the win was a good opportunity to tie off the week and really focus on starting again for Finals.

“It was fantastic for all the girls to be able to take the court [today] and it was really important for us to get everyone out there so that they could really finish the week and consolidate some of their skills, and actually really improve on their performance [heading into Finals],” Simpson said.

Astoundingly, Brice has scored 301 goals in seven matches at an average 43 goals per game, cementing herself as one of the stand-out shooters of the 21/U National competition.  Simpson said she was thrilled for the 20-year-old.

“Isn’t it amazing? I’m really pleased for her individually, as well as her contribution to the team,” Simpson said.

“Kristina is by far our number one target [in the circle]… it’s no secret to any other State either so we just have to make sure our Goal Attack is really as critical in front of Krissi and can be a target as well so we can actually have two viable targets putting up shots.”

It was a solid start from the New South Welshman whose attacking line hit the ground running, feeding some beautiful ball into Brice.  This resulted in the Sky Blues pulling out to a comfortable lead at the first break, combined with some tenacious defence from their teammates.

With a commanding 19-goal lead Simpson made her first change by bringing on Brooke Lawrence at C, giving Captain Kaitlyn Bryce a well-deserved break for the second quarter.  GK Celeste Carnegie and GD Billie Gurr worked well in the circle, putting pressure on every high ball to NT shooters to force a turnover.

Making the most of their extra possession NSW transitioned the ball quickly through the court with Brice and GA Georgia Marshall making it count on the scoreboard.  The result saw NSW pull out to a 28-goal lead heading into the second half.

NSW continued to use their bench extensively, bringing on three players for the start of the second half – Stephanie MacGougan to GA, Claudia Russell to WA and Lauren Stephenson to WD.  While the changes took some time to find rhythm, NSW didn’t relinquish their scoreboard pressure.

Whilst it was a more even quarter in terms of scoring – 13 goals to NSW and 10 goals to NT – the Sky Blues further extended their lead to 31 goals at the final break.

Simpson opted to make further changes to her line for the last 15 minutes, bringing on Kara Styles to GD and Georgia M. Marshall back onto WA, while moving Russell back into GS giving Brice a thoroughly deserved break after shouldering NSW’s goal scoring for much of the tournament.

With two mobile, tall shooters working the circle in tandem, followed by some impressive intercepts and deflections from Styles and Gurr, NSW built on the hard work done in the previous quarters to go onto post a 35-goal win.

NSW currently sits in second place, however Victoria (third), Western Australia (fourth) and Queensland (fifth) are still to contest their Round 7 matches which will determine placings for the Finals Series; South Australia have sewn up top spot with their win over NSW last night.

Should Queensland defeat Tasmania (10:40am AEDST), Victoria defeat Australian Capital Territory (12:20pm AEDST) and South Australia defeat Western Australia (2:00pm AEDST), NSW will finish in third place and meet Victoria in the Semi Final tomorrow, Saturday 14 March, at 2:00pm AEDST.

Should WA defeat SA, then NSW will finish in fourth and meet the defending Champions SA at 12:20pm AEDST.

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 this morning’s match, plus interview with Megan Simpson, below;

Quarter-by-Quarter Scores
NSW│ Q1: 23 – Q2: 39 (17) – Q3: 52 (13) – Q4: 64 (12)
NT│ Q1: 4 – Q2: 11 (7) – Q3: 21 (10) – Q4: 29 (8)

Shooting Statistics
NSW: 64/83 @ 77%
K. Brice:  43/48 @ 90%
G. Marshall: 7/12 @ 58%
S. MacGougan: 13/17 @ 76%
C. Russell: 1/6 @ 17%

NT: 29/45 @ 64%
D. Taulelei: 8/9 @ 89%
M. Craufurd: 3/4 @ 75%
R. Gourley: 10/16 @ 63%
M. Winch: 8/16 @ 50%

Starting Line-ups
NSW│ GS Kristina Brice, GA Georgia Marshall, WA Georgia M. Marshall, C Kaitlyn Bryce (c), WD Maddie Hay (vc), GD Billie Gurr, GK Celeste Carnegie

NT│ GS Deni Taulelei, GA Megan Craufurd, WA Gemma Henderson, C Billie Newtown, WD Kim Gericke, GD Georgette Paatsch, GK Michelle Kerrin

Positional Changes
NSW│  Q2 – C Brooke Lawrence; Q3 – GA Stephanie MacGougan, WA Claudia Russell, WD Lauren Stephenson; Q4 – GS Russell, WA G.M. Marshall, GD Kara Styles, GK Gurr.

NT│ Q2 – WA Courtney Murphy, C Jamie Collins, GK Letisha Heintze; Q3 – GS Ramayer Gourley, GA Michelle Winch, WA Newtown, GD Kerrin; Q4 – WD Paatsch.

Kristina Brice Shooting Stats so far (incl. Round 7)
Rd 1 v TAS: 40/46 @ 87%
Rd 2 v VIC: 47/53 @ 89%
Rd 3 v ACT: 41/46 @ 89%
Rd 4 v QLD: 47/52 @ 90%
Rd 5 v WA: 44/48 @ 92%
Rd 6 v SA: 39/42 @ 93%
Rd 7 v NT: 43/48 @ 90%
TOTAL: 301/335 @ 90%