Victorian Fury claims back-to-back ANL titles

_MCA6591LiThe Victorian Fury has survived a spirited second half fight back by the QLD Fusion to be crowned 2014 Australian Netball League champions in Melbourne today.

The Fury completed back-to-back unbeaten seasons courtesy of their 51-49 victory and the Grand Final triumph was their 23rd consecutive win, leaving them one short of the competition’s all-time record – which they currently hold.

The Fury looked headed for a comfortable win before the Fusion, making their first Grand Final appearance, staged an amazing come back in front of a strong crowd at the Waverley Netball Centre as they sensed an upset in the making.

The Fury started strongly and dominated the first half to lead by 11 goals at the main break. But the Fusion responded in the second half and closed to within six goals by three-quarter time.

_MCA6432LiIn a pulsating final quarter, the Fusion continued to bridge the gap and were within a goal with less than a minute left in the match. But Fury shooter Stephanie Puopolo sealed the win with her 18th goal of the Final to keep the title in Melbourne for another 12 months.

It was the Fury’s fifth ANL title.

A jubilant Fury coach Kristy Keppich-Birrell said she always had confidence that her players on court would keep their composure and hold off the Fusion in the tense final moments.

“Because of the spirit in this team, you know someone is going to stand up and it’s not a question of if but who in this group,” Keppich-Birrell said.

“In the last two minutes I had an underlying feeling that we were going to take control and win it. They’ve been in this position before, they know how to win and that was our edge today.”

Keppich-Birrell praised the Fusion for making her side play right to the final whistle.

“They’re definitely a team of the future and way they’ve been coached and their work rate on court has definitely improved,” she declared of their Grand Final opponents.

“No longer can you think you can hold them off for two quarters and then win the game in the second half. They fight every single quarter and never give up and that’s a credit to them.”

Fusion coach Kylee Byrne was proud of her team’s effort to push the champions right to the final seconds of the game.

“We talked about the Queensland spirit all year and that certainly got us close today. We had a 19-year-old up to a 33-year-old out on court and I’m extremely proud of what they’ve done – not just this game but the whole season,” Byrne said.

“We’ve created history and that’s one little tick but we would have loved the win but the girls were fantastic all year.

“We got to the Grand Final and we’ll be all out to get the win next year.”

_MCA5672LiIn the play-off for third and fourth, the Western Sting were comfortable 54-36 winners over Netball NSW Waratahs to equal their best ever finish in an ANL season.

A dominant opening term paved the way for the Sting’s victory. They led the Waratahs 19-5 at the first break and were 20 goals clear at half-time.

Sting coach Stacey Rosman was pleased that her side executed their game plan for the full 60 minutes and came away with a third-placed finish, equaling the state’s 2011 and 2012 overall season standing.

“One of the things we focused on was WA just doesn’t want to be happy with a top four placing, we actually wanted to win a final,” Rosman said.

“That’s something we’re changing in the culture over in the west. We want to be a real force to be reckoned with and to do that you have to win finals. We had a really strong mentality as to the brand of netball that we want to play and it was about executing that in those situations.”

GRAND FINAL RESULT

Victorian Fury (51) defeated QLD Fusion (49)

Fury shooting statistics
Alice Teague-Neeld 33/38 (87%)
Stephanie Puopolo 18/25 (72%)

Fusion shooting statistics
Beryl Friday 22/25 (88%)
Stephanie Wood 20/27 (74%)
Gretel Tippett 7/13 (54%)

 

PLAY-OFF FOR 3rd and 4th_MCA6562Li

Western Sting (54) defeated Netball NSW Waratahs (36)

Sting shooting statistics
Kaylia Stanton 30/40 (75%)
Kate Beveridge 18/23 (78%)
Sarah East 6/8 (75%)

Waratahs shooting statistics
Melissa Tallent 13/21 (62%)
Amy Sommerville 12/18 (67%)
Kristina Brice 10/17 (77%)
Kaitlyn Bryce 1/4 (25%)