GRAND FINAL: Queensland 27 defeated New South Wales 24
By Maddison Reynolds and Claire Macuz
The U/17’s competition has come to a head with Queensland defeating New South Wales 27-24.
In true State of Origin fashion, the team’s first encounter on Day 3 was a nail-biter with the final whistle revealing a 28-28 draw.
As the teams took the court it was apparent the Grand Final would be no less. Both teams had something to prove.
For Queensland it was their strength as a state. No Queensland side had won the U/17’s competition since 2001 and this victory was only the second since the competitions inauguration in 1983.
The Queensland team had proved their quality in the qualifying matches, heading the competition table without defeat.
NSW’s burden was of a different kind. The home team had amounted a following of supporters throughout the week who were determined to see the U/17’s title reclaimed from the Victorian’s and back on NSW soil.
The NSW side entered the match at second place on the ladder, two points behind Queensland. Intensity was high as the players took the court with both teams showing signs of uncertainty.
The nerves quickly increased for NSW as the agile Maddison Hinchcliffe, Kimberley Jenner and Alexia Baker interrupted their plans and intercepted the NSW first centre.
Queensland continued to dominate the NSW side throughout the first quarter, undermining NSW’s zone defence with speed and phenomenal execution.
It wasn’t until the second quarter that NSW began to respond. The growing momentum behind the NSW defensive duo of Lauren Moore and Teigan O’Shannassy brought the NSW crowd to their feet as the two worked relentlessly to turn Queensland attempts into turnovers.
The two focused their energies on the incredibly accurate Rylie Holland but mistakenly underestimated the leadership and skill of Queensland goal shooter, Binnian Hunt.
Hunt quickly took the premier position whilst Holland, and later Alexia Baker, played the defence. This tactical coaching strategy was essential in securing Queensland’s dominance throughout the match.
Entering the second half of the match, Queensland had a steady hold of NSW, leading 16-10.
NSW goal attack Laura Towell showed resistance and found her feet amidst this Queensland control. Towell’s court presence was evident as she delivered exceptional goals for her team and spurred on the NSW supporters.
The NSW mid-court of Kristen Kessler, Tayla Fraser and Demi Evans similarly kept working calmly and persistently. There was no chance of the Queensland side conceding victory however.
Constant and mature throughout the match, the Queensland defensive team of Kimberley Jenner and Tara Hinchcliffe were unable to be matched.
Their precise cohesion and steadiness was reflective of the Queensland team as a whole and despite NSW’s best efforts there was no way the side could be beaten.
At the final whistle Queensland had ended their 14 year drought with a score of 27-24.
“It feels amazing to win, and I credit it to this group of girls for working so hard”, said Queensland coach Amanda Vanderwall.
“This group of girls worked so well together, and that showed on the court today.”
Queensland (27) defeated New South Wales (24)
Queensland shooting stats
Binnian Hunt 10/13 (77%)
Rylie Holland 7/8 (88%)
Alexia Baker 4/5 (80%)
NSW shooting stats
Veronika Jukic 11/19 (58%)
Laura Towell 9/10 (90%)
Tamara Black 4/4 (100%)