Passionate NNSW Blues fall just short to QLD

The Netball NSW Blues have fallen just short of the Queensland Fusion, who finished the final quarter strongly to win 62-57 to open Week 5 of the 2013 Australian Netball League (ANL).

After heading into the final quarter with the scoreboard even, Fusion were able to outscore the Blues to take victory.

NNSW Blues Head Coach Moira Gaha said the final score doesn’t reflect the close contest that was played at AIS Arena.

“It was goal-for-goal for most of the match, and included a massive fight back from us after being nine or ten goals down at one stage. We went out there and said ‘we are going to give it everything’ and the girls really did that; I couldn’t be prouder of them,” Gaha said.

“One of our main team goals for today was to go for the first ball and that’s what we saw, particularly in that third quarter.  There was a small patch in the final quarter where our consistency dropped and we didn’t follow through; that it was enough to let them back in.”

“To finish just five goals short, especially considering the experience that Fusion has, these girls just did a fantastic job,” Gaha concluded.

Holly Pearce continued her sharpshooter from Wednesday evening opening the score for the NNSW Blues.  At the other end GK Nicole Styles did her best to limit the influence of QLD Firebird Ameliaranne Wells, who was the clear target for the Fusion feeders.

The ball moved quickly between the two ends as the shooters from both sides found the net, with scoreboard quickly increasing.  The NNSW Blues were able to find a slight two goal lead during the opening quarter however Fusion dug in and were able to level the match.

With less than 30 seconds on the clock a quick-thinking Nicola Gray threw the ball into Wells to see Fusion take a slim one goal advantage into the first break, 15-14.

Queensland came out with a bang for the second quarter, scoring eight goals to three in the first five minutes to increase their lead on the scoreboard.  The task was made harder for the young Blues with the opposition bench becoming increasingly more vocal as the ball entered the NSW attacking end.

The intensity lifted as the Fusion looked to take control of the game, but the young Blues weren’t to be discouraged as the worked hard to close the gap on the scoreboard.  Despite leading by as many as nine goals late in the quarter, Fusion went into half time with a six goal advantage over the NNSW Blues, 32-26.

Just as Fusion had done the quarter before, the NNSW Blues flew out of the starting blocks for the start of the second half.  They scored five unanswered goals after five minutes of play to trail by just one, before prolific scorer Wells found the post for QLD.

The resurgence lifted the Blues bench and travelling supporters as they willed the players on court.  WD Katie Maguire took three crucial, high-flying intercepts for the Blues to see her side even the score halfway through the quarter.

 With the NNSW Blues outscoring the Fusion 18 goals to 12 for the third quarter, both sides went into the final break even, 44-44.

After the Blues dominating the previous quarter, Fusion Head Coach Kylee Byrne made a wrath of changes to her side, leaving just GA Stephanie Wood the only unchanged starting player.  The move reinvigorated the QLD side with the introduction of Tiata Baldwin at GS saw Fusion score in succession quickly to take the lead.

As the clock counted down fatigue began to creep into the Blues side, with unforced errors turning possession for Fusion to capitalise. With a commanding performance in the final quarter, scoring 18 goals while keeping NNSW Blues to 13, QLD Fusion posted a five goal victory to take their first win of the weekend.

The NNSW Blues will now enjoy a rest tomorrow before they meet the Western Sting on Sunday 4 August at 10am.  Gaha said that she had full confidence that her young charges could repeat today’s performance against the West Australians.

“Tonight was perfect preparation for Sting – we know we can do it, we know we can take it to teams that are likely to finish in that top four, so I have all confidence going into Sunday expecting to have a great game,” Gaha said.

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Quarter-by-Quarter Scores
NNSW BLUES Q1: 14 – Q2: 26 (12) – Q3: 44 (18) – Q4: 57 (13)
QLD FUSION Q1: 15 – Q2: 32 (17) – Q3: 44 (12) – Q4: 62 (18)

Shooting Statistics
NNSW BLUES: 57/68 @ 84%
Vanessa Mullampy: 33/37 @ 89%
Holly Pearce: 24/31 @ 77%

QLD FUSION: 62/73 @ 85%
Ameliaranne Wells: 24/30 @ 80%
Stephanie Wood: 25/27 @ 93%
Tiata Baldwin: 13/16 @ 81%

Teams Starting Positions
NNSW BLUES: GS Vanessa Mullampy (c), GA Holly Pearce, WA Georgia M. Marshall, C Sophie Halpin, WD Madeline Hay, GD Kara Styles, GK Nicole Styles

QLD FUSION: GS Ameliaranne Wells, GA Stephanie Wood, WA Nicola Gray, C Claire Haigh, WD Jacqui Russell, GD Rachel Forbes, GK Laura Clemesha

Positional Changes
Q2 – WD Katie Maguire; Q3 – C Tanisha Stanton; Q4 Timeout – C Halpin;

Q2 – C Laura Scherian; Q3 – GD Meegan Bruggemann; Q4 – GS Tiata Baldwin, WA Scherian, C Russell, WD Forbes, GK Emma Tickner;