Vic Fury to meet QLD Fusion for 2014 ANL title

BurtonPhotography-9624The Victorian Fury will face off against the QLD Fusion in the 2014 Australian Netball League Grand Final after both sides won thrilling Semi-Finals tonight at the Waverley Netball Centre.

The Fury claimed their place in the season decider after winning a cliffhanger against the Netball NSW Waratahs 53-51 while the Fusion defeated the Western Sting in hard-fought contest 57-52.

It will be the Fusion’s first ever ANL Grand Final appearance while the Fury is chasing their fifth title and looking to complete back-to-back unbeaten seasons.

In the first Semi-Final, the Fury jumped away to an early lead before the Waratahs fought back to level the scores at quarter-time.

A strong second quarter helped the Fury to a six-goal lead at half-time but the Waratahs again closed the margin in the third term to set up a pulsating final 15 minutes.

A week after these two sides played a double extra time thriller at the same venue, the Waratahs stepped their game up a gear and looked headed for an upset win when they held a two-goal late in the final term.

But some crucial intercepts by the Fury defenders allowed their shooters to get the match back on level terms and then edge clear in the final seconds to stretch their winning streak to 22 matches.

GGT_ANL2014_404Fury coach Kristy Keppich-Birrell said despite relinquishing the lead late in the match, she always had faith that her players would rally and was delighted to have secured another Grand Final berth.

“We talk about a lot during the season about what’s going to happen in that critical moment and who’s going to stand up,” Keppich-Birrell said.

“The key thing is all about communication and that was their goal and that was the reason why we won tonight, because we got it together for long enough. The reason we’ve been able to cope throughout the season is because every player has been able to contribute when it’s their time.

“I’m just really proud of how hard they fought against such a great level of competition.”

New Melbourne Vixens recruit Alice Teague-Neeld spearhead the Fury’s win with 32 goals at 89 per cent accuracy while, for the Waratahs, prolific shooter Kristina Brice finished the match with 38 goals at 93 per cent accuracy to move within four goals of a new ANL season record.

The current mark is 461 goals set by the Fury’s Mwai Kumwenda last season.

Keppich-Birrell said it would be a fitting end to the Fury’s season if they triumph in the Final.

“I’m really proud of what we’ve achieved so far as a group and I feel like we’re really prepared.”

In the second semi-final, after an even opening term, the Fusion gradually got on top of the Sting and powered away with a big third term to hold a six-goal advantage heading into the final quarter.

The Sting tried hard to close the gap in the last term, but the Fusion had all the answers and ran out five-goal winners.

Fusion coach Kylee Byrne said her side is determined to create some history for Queensland netball against the Fury tomorrow, despite losing to their Grand Final opponents by 17 goals a week ago.

“Queensland has been waiting for a Grand Final and this is a special team and we really believe we can do it,” Byrne said.

“Fury is the benchmark of this competition but we’ve got a few surprises tomorrow … so look out.
“As I said, this is special group and we’re ready to finish this and I think tomorrow will be Queensland’s day.”

Byrne said the Fusion’s third quarter was decisive after they had worked hard to get a two-goal buffer over the Sting at half-time.

“Even with 30 seconds to go, I think my team manager turned to me but I said `it’s still not over’ and that’s because a side like WA will keep coming and coming,” Byrne said.

“So we just knew we had to get that little barrier otherwise they’d get confidence and come back at us and we didn’t want to leave it to the last quarter (to get the result).”

The Sting now face the Waratahs in the play-off for third and fourth tomorrow at 10am followed by the Grand Final between the Fury and Fusion at noon.

2014 AUSTRALIAN NETBALL LEAGUE SEMI-FINAL RESULTSGGT_ANL2014_381

Victorian Fury (53) defeated Netball NSW Waratahs (51)
Fury shooting statistics
Alice Teague-Neeld 32/36 (89%)
Stephanie Puopolo 21/28 (75%)

Waratahs shooting statistics
Kristina Brice 38/41 (93%)
Kaitlyn Bryce 9/15 (60%)
Amy Sommerville 4/5 (80%)

BurtonPhotography-9776QLD Fusion (57) defeated Western Sting (52)
Fusion shooting statistics
Stephanie Wood 31/33 (94%)
Gretel Tippett 26/35 (74%)

Sting shooting statistics
Kaylia Stanton 28/34 (82%)
Kate Beveridge 24/30 (80%)

GRAND FINAL
Sunday 24 August

Victorian Fury v QLD Fusion
Waverley Netball Centre
12.00PM

3rd v 4th PLAYOFF
Sunday 24 August

Netball NSW Waratahs v Western Sting
Waverley Netball Centre
10.00AM