Queensland 17 and under defeated Western Australia 34-23 to triumph in the National Netball Championships third place play-off match.
The Queenslanders survived a scare in the second quarter to roll over the top of their opponents in the second half, proving their mettle against a side they only defeated by a single goal during the tournament’s round robin phase.
Coach Simone Nalatu said her side’s solid performance under pressure showed they had learnt from their semi-final loss to Victoria on Sunday.
“It’s a long week and the girls were rewarded for their hard work. We didn’t quite get there yesterday in the semi, but we definitely made up for it today,” Nalatu said.
“We’d lost to Victoria by 20 when we met them in the rounds, so the girls were really looking forward to the semi. We were ahead going into the last quarter, but unfortunately just weren’t able to finish the game off. Victoria came back at us really hard and we probably didn’t handle it as well as we could.
“But when Western Australia did it to us today we more than handled it. All the lessons we learnt over the week were put into action and it paid off. The girls did everything that was asked of them – they were fantastic. I couldn’t have asked for a better group or better experience.”
With many current players eligible for selection in the side next year, Nalatu said she expected to see Queensland gunning for the title again.
“The future is bright. There was only one point separating the 17 and under grand finalists today, which shows how tight the competition was and how close we were,” Nalatu said.
“More than half of our group are underage, which speaks to the talent we have. We have five or six who will be eligible for next year, which they will be better for if they perform and are able to win back their place in the team.
“We walk away knowing we did everything we could and came away with the bronze medal. We hold our heads up high and know that next year they’ll be ready to take it all the way.”