A thrilling, double extra-time match at home against the NNSW Waratahs spearheaded a triple treat for the Queensland Fusion, as it took out all three matches in round four of the Australian Netball League (ANL).
In the Fusion’s first hit-out, a full-house crowd at Ormiston College was pushed to the edge of its seat for the stalemate match, that continued for more than 80 minutes, before the home-side gained the two point advantage needed to take the win.
The Queenslanders had to claw their way back from a poor start in the first half, to turn around and pull off the nail biter with an amazing two-goal victory, 80-78.
Giving up more than a ten goal lead to the Waratahs in the second quarter coach Kylee Byrne took her young side away from the court at half time and asked the girls to dig deep.
“We knew coming into this triple header that this was going to be a very tough weekend,” Byrne said.
“To be a part of that extra time two-goal win against the Waratahs was something special, but to be 13 goals down and come back was a phenomenal effort.”
“There was a sense of calmness and self belief from the entire team and that’s what got us there, one goal at a time,” Byrne said.
Inspired by a vocal home crowd the Fusion dug deep in the second half, led by young shooting combination Cara Koenen and Stephanie Wood, slowly wearing down their State of Origin rivals to force the game into extra time with scores locked at 62-62.
With the scores still tied after the second period of extra time, both teams were forced to play on until one team reached a two-point buffer and it was a crucial intercept by Australian U21 squad member Mahalia Cassidy that gave the Queenslanders the upper hand.
Coach Kylee Byrne praised her young shooters Wood and Koenen, who replaced Gretel Tippett at goal shooter in the second quarter and made an immediate impact, along with the effort of ANL newcomer Cassidy.
“Steph Wood was at her brilliant best and showed why she is worthy of an ANZ contract and for ANL first timers Cara Koenen and Mahalia Cassidy to produce the games they did under pressure showed the future of netball in Queensland is in great hands,” Byrne said.
Backing up from the marathon opening match the battle-weary Fusion fired again to defeat Western Australia Sting 63-50 and sealed the triple-header with a convincing victory over the Territory Storm 73-39.
Coach Byrne said the win against the Sting was a gutsy performance by the Fusion especially having to backup from a double extra-time match the night before.
“The win on Saturday night against the Western Australia Sting really showed what this team is all about… that was the gutsy win that I knew we had in us,” Byrne said.
“Sally Butters was outstanding and in her first full game back since knee surgery, controlling the game from the mid-court.”
But the job wasn’t done and Byrne asked the Queenslanders to dig deep and show that maroon spirit to finish off the weekend with a win.
“The final game of a triple-header weekend is always going to be tough but after a shaky start against the Storm we managed to come home strong in the second half,” Byrne said.
Fusion is now placed second behind the unbeaten Victorian Fury on the ANL ladder and head to AIS Arena in Canberra for round five where they take on NNSW Blues and the Tassie Spirit in another tough double-header weekend.
“I am extremely proud of what the Fusion team did on the weekend however we are already looking to next weekend in Canberra where we need two more wins,” Byrne said.
“If we get both wins in Canberra this weekend it sets up a big last round clash in Melbourne when we take on the Fury.”
QLD Fusion v NNSW Waratahs
QLD – 86%
Gretel Tippett – 67%
Stephanie Wood – 86%
Cara Koenen – 89%
QLD Fusion v Western Sting
QLD – 83%
Beryl Friday – 95%
Stephanie Wood – 75%
Cara Koenen – 90%
QLD Fusion v Territory Storm
QLD – 83%
Beryl Friday – 87%
Stephanie Wood – 100%
Gretel Tippett – 78%
Ameliaranne Wells – 87%
Photo: Peter Burton from Burton Photography