The Netball NSW Waratahs have reached the Grand Final of the 2016 Australian Netball League after a pulsating 58-56 semi-final win over the Southern Force at Netball Central on Sunday 25 June.
In a game that ebbed and flowed from start to finish it was the NNSW Waratahs who, after a slow start, took a hold of the game in the third quarter and start of the fourth and did just enough to edge a talented Force side who could easily have won the contest themselves.
The result means the NNSW Waratahs will now play VIC Fury in Sunday’s Grand Final (12 noon AEDT) after the Victorians beat Western Sting in Saturday’s early semifinal. The Sting and Force will play Sunday’s preliminary final, also at Netball Central, at 10am AEST.
Played in front of a wonderful crowd at the home of Netball NSW, the Waratahs and Force started nervously and nearly two minutes went by before the first goal was scored. The South Australians, who beat NSW in Adelaide last weekend, started the contest the better of the sides and good work in their midcourt saw them finish the first quarter well after the teams traded goals at the start of it.
Trailing by four goals at the first break, the Waratahs clicked into gear in the second quarter with excellent work from the likes of Maddie Hay and Amy Parmenter in the midcourt ensuring a greater supply of ball for the shooters. The game intensity also rose in the second period, and NSW rose with it as Vanessa Mullampy and Georgia Marshall rewarded their team’s efforts at the shooting end.
The Force were making a fine contest of the game, however, and the attacking pair of Sasha Glasgow and Charlee Hodges kept NSW on their toes. But the third quarter would be the defining one for the Waratahs, who went into it trailing by two goals, but emerged from it leading by the same margin. It came about through some fine defensive work from Ashley Valeni and Kara Styles, who made the Force toil for every goal, and more wonderful midcourt work from Hay, Taylah Davies and Kaitlyn Bryce.
NSW started the last quarter like they finished the third and before long had an eight-goal lead with 10 minutes to play. The Waratahs played calm, composed netball to keep that margin with five minutes to go before some inspired play brought the Force right back into the contest. There were some nervous moments with two minutes to go and just three goals between the sides, but cool shooting from Kiera Austin and Marshall – coupled with fine defence – was enough to ensure the Force would run out of time.
“I think the girls did a great job to fight back in that game, we made some changes which worked well and I’m really, really happy,” Waratahs head coach Briony Akle said afterwards.
“I think both teams had nerves at the start but I think that will serve us well tomorrow.
“We will need to hit the ground running against the Fury tomorrow but I’m glad we had resilience today and were able to see out the win.”
Akle also paid tribute to the vocal crowd a Netball Central, which she said was amazing support for her team.
“It was a great crowd, I was thrilled,” she said. “They were the extra goals for us at the end of game I think.”
Tickets are still available to tomorrow’s Grand Final, you can get them by clicking on the link below.
2016 ANL Grand Final | Sunday 26 June – TICKETS
Preliminary Final, 10am AEST
Grand Final, 12pm AEST
WARATAHS | Q1: 11 – Q2: 26 (15) – Q3: 43 (17) – Q4: 58 (15)
FORCE | Q1: 15 – Q2: 28 (13) – Q3: 41 (14) – Q4: 56 (15)
WARATAHS: 58/71 @ 82%
A Miller: 7/10 @ 70%
V Mullampy: 11/15 @ 73%
G Marshall: 29/32 @ 91%
K Austin: 11/14 @ 79%
FORCE: 56/64 @ 88%
S Glasgow: 44/47 @ 94%
L Packard: 3/7 @ 43%
C Hodges: 9/10 @ 90%
WARATAHS | GS Alison Miller, GA Vanessa Mullampy, WA Kaitlyn Bryce, C Maddeline Hay, WD Sophie Halpin, GD Jessica Calderara, GK Ashley Valeni
FORCE | GS Sasha Glasgow, GA Laura Packard, WA Sheree Wingard, C Gia Abernethy, WD Emily Burgess, GD Luka Thompson, GK Amehlia Schmidt
NSW Subs | GS G Miller Q2, WD Amy Parmenter Q2, WA Taylah Davies Q3, GA Keira Austin Q3, GD Kara Styles Q3