Heartache for Queensland Despite Gutsy Semi Final Effort

The Queensland 19U have gone down to South Australia in a nail biter of a semi final on day 5 of the National Netball Championships at the Queensland State Netball Centre today.

2018 NNC 19U runners up South Australia took on top of the ladder Queensland in a match that would decide tomorrow’s spot in the grand final, coming out victorious 37 – 35.

Queensland may have come in the underdogs of the tournament, finishing 6th last year, but this by no means stopped them from proving that this year they meant business.

With each team bringing their state army to the court, the atmosphere was electric even before the first whistle had been blown.

The first quarter began as body-on-body as it finished, each team carrying a huge intensity. Defensive pressure early on meant Queenslander goal shooter Charlie Bell was able to confidently sink the first 4 shots of the match, putting QLD 4 – 0 thanks to some perfectly timed feeds from Mia Stower. A picture perfect long shot from Stower was met by an equal performance from South Australia’s shooters, giving both goalers the confidence to launch themselves into the game. The quarter ending 8 – 10 in favour of Queensland.

South Australia utilised the height and strength of their shooter Lucy Austin’s, bringing themselves back to 12 – 12 within the first 4 minutes of the second quarter, proving that this match would not be won easy. Unforced errors from both sides meant the game was neck and neck, with every opportunity at goal counting. An intercept out of the blue from South Australian goal defence Chelsea Blackman allowed the side to finish strong at 18 – 16, their grand final experience showing through.

South Australia’s relentless intensity continued through to the second half, shaking the home team and pushing them out to a 22 – 16 lead. A lucky turn-over for Queensland brought back their confidence, with Macy Gardner and Leesa Mi Mi connecting with Bell seamlessly to bring them back within striking distance. Despite a gallant from Queensland shooting duo Stower and Bell, who it seemed could not miss, nothing phased the poised South Australian’s as they continued stoically into the last quarter. With only 4 minutes left, SA led 35 – 31, the team’s ability to capitalise on Queensland’s mistakes undeniable. Despite this, the home team never once gave up, making their opponents work until the last whistle to bring themselves back to 36 – 35, only to be pipped by a last second shot from South Australian shooter Nyah Allen.

Finishing victorious at 37 – 35, South Australia have secured themselves a spot in the Grand Final once again, while Queensland will play off for 3rd.

A consistent and hard fought effort from the Queensland 17U side saw a well deserved win against Tasmania, 37 – 25 after some breathtakingly close losses over the first four days of the tournament.

Queensland’s attackers dominated the first half of the opening quarter, leading 5 – 0 until Tasmania’s shooters found their feet. Connections between the mid-court and goalers on both ends were a little slow at first, with defensive units from both sides firing. Tempo soon picked up as Queensland wing attack Sarah Harris began to find her rhythm feeding into goal shooter Martina Reekers, leaving the score at 10 – 7 to the Queenslanders.

The second quarter saw no decrease in intensity from Queensland’s defensive team who worked hard to keep the score as low as possible for the Tassie shooters. Despite the pressure, Tasmanian shooter Danielle Laugher produced some well needed long shots, taking the pressure off her team as needed to place them at 19 -14 down as half time approached.

Returning from half time both sides made some widespread changes, leading to a large amount of unforced errors across the court for one another to capitalise on. An excellent deflection from Queensland goal keeper Lily Gribble set the tone that Queensland’s defence would not be rattled, despite Tasmania’s change up in the shooting end. Queensland shooters Reilley Batcheldor and Martina Reekers began to add an extra element of flair to the quarter, with some basketball inspired passes that only added to their already steady lead.

Yet another intercept from Gribble ensured the Queenslanders’ momentum continued through to their final quarter. Queensland centre Rylee Burns was a stand out throughout the whole match, giving Queensland the steadiness and control they needed.

Queensland’s overall consistency across all ends of the court has secured them their spot in tomorrows 5th place playoff.