The Queensland Fusion has claimed honours against a spirited Netball NSW (NNSW) Blues, 64-53, to open both sides’ Week 5 campaigns of the 2014 Australian Netball League (ANL) at the AIS Arena, Canberra.
It was a confident performance from the young NSW outfit, who kept in touch with the experienced QLD side who boasted no less than five ANZ Championship experienced athletes – all featuring on court at some point during the game.
Head Coach Briony Akle was thrilled with her charges, saying the young NNSW Blues weren’t overawed by their opposition.
“We’re really pleased with how our girls performed today – they didn’t back down from the contest and really took it to the Fusion. They did really well,” Akle said.
“QLD [Fusion] have a lot of experience in their line-up, so for us to match up well on them for 60 minutes is a credit to the [NNSW] Blues. I’m especially pleased with our changes today – they were seamless and everyone came on and did their job.
“We just had a really good, positive vibe today and that started right from the beginning when, at the last minute, we gave Kara [Styles] the GK bib. Instead of panicking, she was ready and raring to go. That just sums up the great team bond we have, and hopefully that positivity can get us over the line tomorrow against [Territory] Storm,” Akle concluded.
It was a great start from the young NNSW Blues outfit, who stayed in touch with their opposition for much of the opening quarter with Vice-Captain Nikki Deegenaars leading the charge in the C bib. Good defensive pressure from the attacking line-up kept the ball in the NNSW Blues scoring end.
However the Fusion had a strong circle target in 2014 NSW Swift Gretel Tippett, whose athletic jump made her an easy option. Despite the efforts of her defensive opponent Kara Styles in at GK, Tippett worked the high ball, giving the Fusion an early six goal advantage.
Both teams made their first changes for match; NNSW Blues swapping defensive partners Gurr and Styles to GK and GD, respectively, while the Fusion brought on Australian 21/U representative Mahalia Cassidy to WA.
The young NNNSW Blues enjoyed a great start to the first quarter, putting up a string of goals to narrow the gap on the scoreboard. With the Queenslanders fumbling possession, the NNSW Blues jumped on the extra possession to move the ball quickly to their shooters.
Their shooters didn’t let them down, with shooting partners Holly Pearce and Kiera Austin moving the circle in tandem to give their feeders plenty of opportunities. Despite getting as close as two goals during the quarter, three goals in the final minute to the Fusion saw them take a 32-26 lead at half time.
Australian 19/U defender Toni Anderson was given the GK bib for the start of the second half, while Fusion brought on 2014 QLD Firebird Ameliaranne Wells to partner Tippett at GA. The change had immediate effect on the scoreboard, with QLD pulling out to a nine goal buffer after five minutes play.
The young NSW side weren’t to be discouraged though, keeping in the contest through some great defensive play from the midcourters while the shooters were on-song under the post. Despite a goal on the buzzer to Pearce, the NNSW Blues trailed QLD by nine goals leading into the final 15 minutes.
It was a fast finish to the final quarter, with goals falling on the scoreboard for both sides. The NNSW Blues would go on a run to pull back the deficit, only for the Fusion to answer with a run of their own led by 192cm GS Tippett.
Neither team took a step backwards in the final quarter, with the young NNSW Blues keeping pace with the experienced QLD outfit. In the end the Fusion won their third quarter to take a 11 goal victory to open their Week 5 ANL campaign.
The NNSW Blues will be back on court at the AIS Arena tomorrow, Sunday 3 August, when they meet the Territory Storm at 12pm AEST.
Keep up to date with all the action on the road with Netball NSW’s social media channels; www.facebook.com/OfficialNetballNSW, Twitter and Instagram @netballnsw #ANL2014 #GoNSW
NNSW BLUES│ Q1: 11 – Q2: 26 (15) – Q3: 40 (14) – Q4: 53 (13)
QLD FUSION│ Q1: 17 – Q2: 32 (15) – Q3: 49 (17) – Q4: 64 (15)
NNSW BLUES: 53/67 @ 79%
Holly Pearce: 27/35 @ 77%
Kiera Austin: 26/32 @ 81%
QLD FUSION: 64/83 @ 77%
Gretel Tippett: 49/60 @ 82%
Stephanie Wood: 7/12 @ 58%
Ameliaranne Wells: 8/11 @ 73%
NNSW BLUES│ GS Holly Pearce, GA Kiera Austin, WA Claire O’Brien, C Nikki Deegenaars (vc), WD Sophie Halpin (c), GD Billie Gurr, GK Kara Styles
QLD FUSION│ GS Gretel Tippett, GA Stephanie Wood, WA Sally Butters, C Laura Scherian (co-c), WD Madeline McAuliffe, GD Kerri Gordon, GK Demelza Fellowes (co-c)
NNSW BLUES│ Q2 – GD Styles, GK Gurr; Q3 – GK Toni Anderson; Q4 – GD Kirra Jones
QLD FUSION│ Q2 – WA Mahalia Cassidy; Q3 – GA Ameliaranne Wells, WD Madeline Walsh; Q4 – WA Butters, GD Katie Underwood.