Suncorp Super Netball stars of the future will clash for the inaugural Samsung Queensland State Netball League (QSNL) Under 19 title at University of the Sunshine Coast on Sunday, according to Brisbane West Lions coach Tracey Jeanes-Fraser.
Jeanes-Fraser, who is also head coach of Lorna Jane Queensland Firebirds feeder club Queensland Fusion, said fans could expect a high-energy clash full of feeling when her side took on league powerhouse Brisbane North Cougars.
The Cougars romped to the U/19 minor premiership after posting a 15-1 regular season record, but were defeated by the Lions in each of their last two meetings.
“I think both teams have some amazing stars sitting on that fringe. It’s going to be a great showcase to see what Netball Queensland has in those younger years coming through that will end up the next Queensland Fusion, Suncorp Super Netball or Australian Diamonds athletes,” Jeanes-Fraser said.
“We are very respectful of the Cougars camp. They have a class side. We’ve had to have a look at the strengths they have and try to look at how we can take them on and counteract what they’ll bring.
“The girls are keen and excited, with some nerves running through. For many it’s their first big hit out. We’re proud to be in the grand final. For the Lions to win this weekend would show the depth in our region. Our Division 1 and 2 sides have been in the top echelons this year and a win at 19s level would show the hard work we’re doing.”
Cougars coach Patti Farrell said her side had found its feet again after injuries nearly derailed their season at the death.
Following a 15-point loss to the Lions in the final round, they lost again to Brisbane West in the major semi before steadying the ship and qualifying for the decider with a hard-fought victory over Golden South Jaguars.
“We have a very young team, only one girl at the top of the age group and the rest of our players have three years left potentially at this level – it’s good for the future,” Farrell said.
“However we struggled with injuries throughout the latter end of the season and it’s always difficult balancing a team when you have girls also dealing with other netball commitments.
“Having said that we now have a clean bill of health. We backed up and beat Jaguars last weekend and expect the girls to have learnt a lot from the experience, especially the physical contest.”
Farrell said her side would look to avenge their recent losses to the Lions with strong defensive pressure, especially on their star Queensland shooter Charlie Bell.
“We look to defensively close down channels and shut down options in attack. We want (our opposition) to move the ball a lot more than they normally do,” she said.
“We’re not the tallest team and will come up against some real height in Charlie Bell and need to shut down the ball before it gets to her. In attack, we need to have the confidence to let it go.
“There is never an expectation of winning or losing. We have our set targets for the game that we have to reach. If each individual reaches their assigned targets, the result is conclusive. That’s what we’re going out to do. It’s only in the last two or three games that a team has come within 10 of us.
“We’ve always put the foot on the gas and kept going. A little hiccup with some injuries, but we’ll be ready for Sunday.”