Fury chasing record in opening round of ANL

_MCA6591LiThe opening round of the 2015 Australian Netball League in Canberra this weekend could be an historic one for reigning champions the Victorian Fury.

The AIS Arena will kick off the eighth season of the under-pinning national competition with the Fury, Netball NSW Waratahs, Tassie Spirit and Canberra Darters in action.

The Fury, which is aiming for a hat-trick of titles in 2015, need one win to equal the all-time record of 24 straight victories, which they set back in 2010.

The task of equalling the record will be no easy task as the Fury opens its campaign against arch rivals the Waratahs on Saturday afternoon before taking on hosts the Darters on Sunday.

Fury coach Kristy Keppich-Birrell, who is in her second season at the helm, said her side’s focus is solely on their opening clash against the Waratahs, who they beat twice last season by the margin of two goals both times.

“I know Waratahs will be really tough first up opponent but it’s going to be a great test to see what we’ve got and what we can do and put out there and what we can prepare for it,” Keppich-Birrell, pictured below, said.

“It’s good to play them first up and get a benchmark on where we’re at and then build from there.”

The Fury line-up contains five athletes who were part of the Melbourne Vixens squad in the ANZ Championship this season in Kelsey Browne, Emily Mannix, Alice Teague-Neeld, Chloe Watson and Jo Weston.

kristyThe Waratahs will be missing NSW Swifts trio Taylah Davies, Micaela Wilson and Stephanie Wood – all who are involved in Sunday’s ANZ Championship Grand Final in Brisbane. But last year’s joint Most Valuable Player winner and leading goalscorer Kristina Brice will spearhead their campaign this weekend.

The Darters and Spirit will be looking to get their seasons off to a winning start when they meet on Saturday night.

The Darters hold a 4-3 win-loss record over Tassie but the Spirit has won the last three contests between the two sides, including a 52-38 result in the opening round of last season.

Young Darters shooter Alison Miller is a player to watch having been part of this year’s 19/U Australian tour to New Zealand. The Spirit will be led by Jon Fletcher for the second straight year.

Eight teams will contest this season’s Australian Netball League following the loss of the Netball NSW Blues and Victorian Flames from the competition. The year’s fixture will run over the next six weeks with Finals being played at the Waverley Netball Centre in Melbourne on July 24/25.

Week One Fixtures

Netball NSW Waratahs v Victorian Fury
Saturday 20 June, 4.30pm
AIS Arena, Canberra

Tassie Spirit v Canberra Darters
Saturday 20 June, 6.30pm
AIS Arena, Canberra

Tassie Spirit v Netball NSW Waratahs
Sunday 21 June, 10.30am
AIS Arena, Canberra

Victorian Fury v Canberra Darters
Sunday 21 June, 12.30pm
AIS Arena, Canberra

BYES:

QLD Fusion
Southern Force
Territory Storm
Western Sting