Centre of Excellence side opens series with victory

Wales_v_Aust_CoE_117The Netball Australia Centre of Excellence team has produced a stunning third quarter to topple Wales 54-42 in the first match of their international series in Tasmania.

Down by seven goals at half-time, the Centre of Excellence team were sparked into action through the introduction of Queensland’s Hulita Haukinima to centre to start the second half.

Her midcourt dominance was capitalised on by shooters Georgie Virgo (South Australia), Kiera Austin (New South Wales) and Sophie Garbin (Western Australia) as the Centre of Excellence turned their deficit into a nine-goal lead heading into the final term.

Wales_v_Aust_CoE_093They continued to edge away in the final term to a 12-goal victory.

Haukinima was named Player of the Match in a performance which impressed team coach Nicole Richardson.

“She had a great game,” Richardson said of Haukinima.

“She basically decided to take on the defenders and just went. She was able to find depth on the second phase ball and hit the circle edge and did a good job in terms of her feeding ability.

“She’s an uncanny player who plays a lot on instinct, is really athletic and reads the play well. She could have a big future as a midcourter.

“Kiera (Austin) was outstanding. Her ability as a goal attack to create turnovers and intercepts against a more senior opponent was impressive.”

Wales_v_Aust_CoE_056 (1)In front of a crowd of more than 1000 at the Launceston Silverdome, the Centre of Excellence led narrowly by two goals at quarter-time before Wales got on top.

Despite the deficit, Richardson stressed to her players they were still in the contest.

“I told the girls `we don’t need to get all seven (goals) back at once – if we can get it back to three or four at three-quarter time we’re in with a shot of winning’,” Richardson said.Wales_v_Aust_CoE_025

“I said to the coaching staff after the game `how good would it have been to have video of that third quarter?’ They just had no fear and were basically able to get the ball, turn and deliver and didn’t hesitate whereas in the first half that was in our game.

“So it was a very pleasing result – but not one at half-time I would have expected.”

The Centre of Excellence team will take on Australian Netball League side Tassie Spirit in Hobart on Saturday and Scotland on Sunday.

Spirit defeated Scotland 39-33 in the opening match of the series for both teams in Hobart on Thursday night.

Follow Netball Australia’s Twitter @NetballAust for updates of matches over the weekend.

Pictures courtesy of Bret Salinger