Hunt for finals contention still anyone’s game as ANL record is broken

Game One                                         Game Two
Western Sting 65 v Territory Storm 32          Western Sting 75 v Territory Storm 42
Netball NSW Waratahs 47 v Tas Magpies 53          Netball NSW Waratahs 49 v Tas Magpies 50
Victorian Fury 44 v Canberra GIANTS 51          Victorian Fury 70 v Canberra GIANTS 41
Southern Force 53 v QLD Fusion 59          Southern Force 66 v Qld Fusion 47

 

12 days out from finals, and it’s still not clear who should be booking their flights to Perth for the Australian Netball League finals.

You can lock in reigning champions, Victorian Fury who are on track to make it their fifth consecutive championship if all goes to plan. However, their first game over the weekend saw a dip in confidence as the second placed Canberra GIANTS were able to take the win, 51-44 in what may be a preview to the ANL Grand Final. The Fury retaliated, and found a surge to come out blazing on Sunday, to defeat the GIANTS 70-41.

The battle to hold on to the final two spots in the top four saw currently third and fourth positioned Queensland Fusion and Southern Force each get a win over each other in Adelaide. It was the visiting side who proved too strong for Southern Force in game one, taking a six goal win. The Force lived up to their name in game two, with an impressive performance to defeat Fusion by 19.

 

Western Sting’s Sophie Garbin has broken the ANL record for most goals in a season.

Photo: Mia Mammoliti/Netball WA

Hoping to book a spot in a home final, Western Sting were dominant over Territory Storm across both days, with even more reason to celebrate as Sophie Garbin broke the ANL record for most goals in a season. Needing 44 goals to break Kristina Brice’s 2014 record of 468, Sophie managed to succeed in the final quarter of the Sting’s 33 goal win in game one against the Storm. The Sting were a force to be reckoned with, with their eyes on April 8, when they came out on Sunday. It was clear they were doing everything in their control to secure a finals spot, with another 33 goal win over the Storm.

A spot in the finals is anyone’s with sixth placed Tasmanian Magpies also in the running. Both days saw incredibly strong games, almost mirroring each other with similar score lines.

“Most teams are certainly realising there’s a bit at stake with finals opportunities still going so there’s a fair bit to play for.” Magpies coach Jon Fletcher reflected on the round six performance and the lead up to finals.

“Saturday was a really, hard-fought game. The Waratahs got away from us a little in the first quarter… and they were starting to take control. I was pleased we were able to make some plays to get ourselves back. It was a good quality game.” Fletcher said of game one where the Magpies took the win, 53-47.

The injection of three Suncorp Super Netball training partners into each side saw a similar, yet more physical battle in game two.

“It was a pretty fast and frantic game this one with some good, strong one on one contests throughout the court,” Fletcher said. “It was very similar to game one, but a few very different bodies out there.”

“We managed to break out to about seven in the third quarter and it looked like we were going to gain control of the game, but the Waratahs fought right back on that one and got it back to four at three quarter time.”

It was a nail-biting final quarter which saw the Magpies win by one goal.

The Magpies have managed a unique situation this year, with three bases of players – Melbourne, Launceston and Hobart – coming together each week to play in the ANL, and coach Jon Fletcher has credited the girls and coaching staff for their persistence and ability to work together.

“It’s taken a little while for us to get our systems, processes on and off the court in place. We are bringing three groups together each week, and each week we’re getting more familiar with each other and our on and off court processes are getting tighter as we go along. Every week’s a learning situation for us in every aspect.”

Without ruling out a 2017 finals berth, Fletcher is confident in what lies next for the Tasmanian Magpies.

“As we go over the next few years, everything will fall into place. We’ll sit back and review this year as to what went well and what we can do better. We’ll be better placed next year.”

 

Round seven

SATURDAY

Western Stingv Tasmanian MagpiesState Netball Centre, Perth12.00pm
Territory Stormv Netball NSW WaratahsUniversity of Sunshine Coast3.30pm
Victorian Furyv Southern ForceState Netball & Hockey Centre5.00pm
Canberra GIANTSv Queensland FusionGenea Netball Centre5.00pm

 

SUNDAY

Western Stingv Tasmanian MagpiesState Netball Centre, Perth10.00am
Territory Stormv Netball NSW WaratahsUniversity of Sunshine Coast3.30pm
Victorian Furyv Southern ForceWaverley Netball Centre12.00pm
Canberra GIANTSv Queensland FusionGenea Netball Centre12.00pm