Darling Downs Panthers will look to cause the upset of the season in front of their hometown fans in Toowoomba today as Samsung QSNL returns to the Darling Downs.
The Panthers are winless but by no means disgraced so far this season, giving a good account of themselves every time they’ve taken the court.
They’ll take on a Suncoast Lynx outfit who have established themselves as the Division 2 title favourites after putting together a clinical 8-1 run so far.
Panthers coach Rebecca Stower said it was not beyond her troops to pull off a big win.
“The girls have been playing a really good three quarters every week. It’s just the final quarter that we can’t finish off,” Stower said.
“The home advantage will help push us over the line, but it’s just about the girls believing in themselves and backing themselves. It’s about knowing how to win. They’re capable of taking out any team in this competition.
“We’re going to need to play the full four quarters. We’ll be punished if we let the Lynx get any more than a two-goal run on at any time. We have to value possession of the ball and we need to play good, hard hustle defence across the full court. If we do those three things, we’ll give ourselves the best chance to win the game.”
A big home crowd is expected to turn out to cheer on the home side, including a contingent of Panthers juniors excited to see their senior counterparts play.
Stower said the opportunity for the club’s next generation to cheer on their role models would be a boost to everyone involved at the club.
“The players are pumped. They do a lot of work with our Future Cubs program and junior Panthers,” she said.
“To have those girls be able to come out here and watch them play is really exciting. They’ll get a feel for the level of play they can aspire to. We have a great mix of older and younger players and there’s a wonderful mutual respect that exists. They always go out there and play for one another.
“We’re still by far the youngest team in the competition. As a coach I’m very proud of what they’re putting out there. They’re committed and work hard. The rewards will come.”
Queensland’s west is known for producing blue chip talent like Laura Geitz, Clare McMeniman and Laura Clemesha.
While girls often make the move to the city to get their chance, Stower said the Panthers were happy to play their part in helping players from the Darling Downs make their mark.
“It’s about playing netball, it doesn’t matter who they play for. We just want them to reach their potential and play to the best of their ability,” she said.
“The group of girls that I’ve got I’ve had since they were 10-years-old. It’s been a long working process with those girls. We had a great run.
“Our future is really strong and when we have girls like (Queensland 17/U representatives) Mia Stower and Olivia McDermid experiencing some success, it can give all the other girls a snapshot of what they’re capable of if they apply themselves. The future is very exciting.”