The Canberra Darters claimed their first win of the season in the final round action of the Australian Netball League (ANL).
The Darters hosted the Queensland Fusion on Friday, with a gallant second quarter seeing the Darters with an eight-goal lead at the main break.
The Fusion weren’t to be discounted just yet, leveling the scores at three-quarter time before the Darters outscored the visitors in the last to win 44 – 40.
Darters coach Melinda Clarke said she was impressed by her team’s win.
“I think we’ve improved as the season has gone on and I think that the game on Friday night showed what we had improved on throughout the season and how far the girls have come, so it was a nice reward for their hard work and effort,” Clarke said.
It would be a different story in the second game, with the Darters going down by 27 goals.
The Fusion lead at every break, increasing their lead from four goals at quarter-time, to 14 at the main break and 19 at three-quarter time.
The Fusion were eventually easy winners, taking the game out 58 – 31, finishing their season on a high.
Clarke said that it would’ve been nice to finish the season with another win.
“I think it’s really hard to back-up a win in this competition and I think we’ve seen in a lot of the rounds the results being split,” Clarke said.
“I also think Queensland probably executed their game plan better than we did on Saturday.
“We would’ve liked to be able to back it up again yesterday but certainly it was important for us to be able to put out on court everything that was learnt throughout the season and it was a nice way to finish,” Clarke said.
The other games played in the final round were between finals contenders the Southern Force and NNSW Waratahs, who were battling for second place.
The games were split, with both the Force and Waratahs claiming a win, meaning the Waratahs hold onto second place.
The Force were two-goal winners in the first game, despite being down by four at the first break.
Equalling the score in the second quarter, the Force capitalised on the Waratahs’ turnovers, and maintained their lead for the rest of the game.
Having a seven goal lead early in the last quarter, the Waratahs were able to reduce the margin to just two, to lose 50 – 48.
The second game would be much different, with the Waratahs dominating to win 66 – 54.
Leading by three goals at quarter-time, the Waratahs never relinquished their lead, with shooter Alison Miller starring in attack, scoring 40 goals from 43 attempts at 94 per cent.
The finals action of ANL takes place next weekend at Netball Central in NSW, with the top four teams fighting for a grand final berth.
The Victorian Fury sit on top of the ladder with eight wins, followed by the Waratahs with six wins and a draw and the Southern Force with six wins. The Western Sting round out the top four with five wins.
The teams will battle next Saturday to determine the two teams that will contest the grand final, to be played on the Sunday.
Picture courtesy of Ben Southall