South Australia chasing place in 21/U history

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South Australia is chasing a piece of state history in next month’s 21/U National Netball Championships being played in Launceston, Tasmania.

The defending champions are eyeing off their fourth consecutive title in the 21/U age group, a feat only achieved by two other states in the tournament’s history – New South Wales (2008-2011) and Victoria (twice).

The 21/U national titles will be played at The Silverdome in Launceston between March 8-13.

South Australia claimed a hat-trick of titles by winning on the Sunshine Coast last year, the third time the state has accomplished that.

The other occasions were 1959-1961 and 2002-2004.

South Australian coach Brian Lines, pictured, has been impressed with the way his athletes are preparing for this year’s titles with a number stepping up to the 21/U age group after representing the state at 17/U and 19/U level.

2015 21U National Championships 1 v 2 Grand Final South Australia v VictoriaReturning from last year’s team are midcourters Hannah Petty, Emily Burgess and Rebecca Moyne, defenders Lucy Armfield and Rebecca Winch and shooter Charlee Hodges.

Defender Letisha Heintze represented the Northern Territory last year.

“Every state loses athletes through age each year but that’s not been a focus for us,” Lines said.

“I’m seeing a strong dedication from our group because they want to demonstrate they’re capable of playing at that level.

“We’ve got a really, good talented group. Rather than focusing on four (titles) in a row, we’re talking about how this could be the start of a new era for South Australia.”

Lines, entering his second year in charge of South Australia’s 21/U side, expects this year’s tournament to be closely-contested with ANZ Championship talent sprinkled through the respective states.

Victoria has finished runners up to South Australia in the past three Grand Finals and haven’t won the 21/U title since 2007.NAGB_NN_U21_FC_Grad_Pos

Queensland heads to Tasmania coming off a bronze medal at home last year, its best finish since 2009.

New South Wales finished fourth in 2015, its worst result in a decade, but will take a strong team aiming to win the state’s first title since 2012.

Western Australia has seven athletes returning from the 2015 titles and that experience will see it challenging for a top four finish.

Hosts Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory have prepared their athletes well to challenge for a spot in the finals.

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