Lions edge Cougars in thrilling Samsung QSNL U/19 decider

Brisbane West Lions defeated Brisbane North Cougars 50-49 in a thrilling grand final to capture the inaugural Samsung QSNL U/19 championship at University of the Sunshine Coast on Sunday 25 June.

In a see-sawing encounter that saw the lead change four times in the final quarter, it was the Lions who were able to snare the win and cap off a stellar season.

Australian representative shooter Charlie Bell was a pillar of strength for the Lions at their shooting end, while defenders Lia Woolnough and Sarah Earl impressed with some vital touches.

The Cougars were just as ferocious as their opponents, showing off the depth of their talent pool through the ice cold shooting of goal attack Maddie Grant and defensive exploits of keeper Ruby Bakewell-Duran.

A physical opening saw bodies falling to the floor at both ends of the court as the sides battled to take an early advantage.

Both shot strong early, with Cougars goal attack Grant and Lions shooter Bell both pinpoint with their accuracy in close and at range.

As the sides exchanged goals at a rate of knots it was the Cougars who steadied to take the advantage on the buzzer and a 13-12 quarter time lead.

The midcourt battle continued to capture the imagination as the second quarter kicked off, with Cougars centre Maddison Davies and Lions captain Loren Morssinkhof pushing each other to their limits.

The Cougars rallied to take an early three goal advantage, with defensive pair Bakewell-Duran and Georgia Feeney combining to capture several key turnovers that were duly converted.

But the Lions returned fire late, with goal attack Josephine Bingham finding her range with some spectacular long bombs to reel in her side’s half-time deficit to a single goal.

Similar themes repeated in the third quarter as the sides battled to the break 36-all to set up a ferocious final frame.

The Cougars took two vital turnovers early to grab the game by the scruff of the neck, with Ingrid Fitzpatrick catching the eye as she teed up her shooters with some deft feeds.

The Lions rallied to steady the ship before taking control through defender Lia Woolnough, who made some vital defensive interventions to turn the tide and win her side back a two-goal lead.

But the Cougars’ Davies reared her head with three minutes left to make a vital deflection on a Lions centre pass to win her side the ball and level-pegging on the scoreboard.

But the Lions wouldn’t be denied, remaining patient with possession to recapture the lead and win a turnover with seconds remaining to win the inaugural grand final 50-49.