Tasmania hosts opening round of Australian Netball League

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The Tassie Spirit will play host to the Southern Force, QLD Fusion and Canberra Darters in the opening round of the 2014 Australian Netball League at the Silverdome in Launceston on Saturday.

The four sides will kick off the seventh season of the under-pinning national competition, which continues to successfully provide a pathway between state league competitions and the world’s best netball league, the ANZ Championship.

The Southern Force, led by Australian 21/U coach Tania Obst, who returns to the helm after guiding the side to the 2012 premiership, will take on QLD Fusion on Saturday in the competition’s opening game before backing up to play the hosts on Sunday.

The Force, the only side from last year’s top four in action on the opening weekend of the 2014 season, went down to the Fusion 72-56 in Round 3 before bouncing back to beat the Spirit 47-27 the following weekend last year.

The Fusion will be out to make a winning start to their campaign in Tasmania as they chase their first top four finish since 2011.

The Queenslanders, who finished sixth last year, have added experience to their line up with the inclusion of Australian international Demelza McCloud, along with ANZ Championship players Gretel Tippett (NSW Swifts) and Ameliaranne Wells (Queensland Firebirds).

The Spirit and Darters, who have never finished higher than seventh and ninth respectively, faceoff on Saturday as both teams eye off a victory in their first game of the year.

The Tasmanians will be full of confidence heading into the new year after they secured the services of former Melbourne Vixens premiership coach Julie Hoornweg as technical director during the off season and welcome back nine players from last year.

The eight-week national league, which features teams from every state and territory, provides players, coaches, umpires and officials an opportunity to develop and test their skills on the national stage.

Twelve months ago, Commonwealth Games bound Kimberley Ravaillion lined up for the Australian Institute of Sport while the league’s reigning Most Valuable Player Mwai Kumwenda (Victorian Fury) was named the ANZ Championship’s Best New Talent after starring in her debut season with the Mainland Tactix.

The 2014 Australian Netball League kicks off at the Silverdome, Launceston, on Saturday at 6.30pm.

The Netball NSW Blues, Netball NSW Waratahs, Victorian Flames, Victorian Fury, Western Sting and Territory Storm have the bye.

Week One Fixtures:

Southern Force v QLD Fusion
Saturday 5 July, 6.30pm
Silverdome, Launceston, Tasmania

Tassie Spirit v Canberra Darters
Saturday 5 July, 8.30pm
Silverdome, Launceston, Tasmania

QLD Fusion v Canberra Darters
Sunday 6 July, 10.00am
Silverdome, Launceston, Tasmania

Tassie Spirit v Southern Force
Sunday 6 July, 12.00pm
Silverdome, Launceston, Tasmania

Bye:
Netball NSW Blues
Netball NSW Waratahs
Victorian Flames
Victorian Fury
Western Sting
Territory Storm

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