ANL wrap: Territory Storm almost topple defending champs

It’s all but impossible to pick a winner after two rounds of the Australian Netball League, with one win separating the top six teams and a number of games going down to the wire in on the weekend.

Here’s how Round 2 played out.

NNSW Waratahs v Canberra GIANTS

The NSW derbies went the same way as the coinciding Suncorp Super Netball clash, with the NNSW Waratahs pulling off two wins against the GIANTS Netball affiliated Canberra GIANTS.

On Saturday both teams kept their Super Netball stars on ice, with the Swifts and Giants playing on Sunday afternoon, but the action was no less heated.

The Waratahs jumped out early, leading by four goals at quarter-time and extending their advantage to eight at the long break. But the Giants hit back in the third, with goaler Georgia Marshall (33/38) finding her range and helping her team narrow the gap to six.

But that brief scare was enough to spark NNSW into action, with the Waratahs claiming the final qurter 15-9 to finish the game 58-46, and young gun Matisse Letherbarrow again padding her stats column with an impressive 44 goals from 49 attempts for the game.

The return bout the following day went much the same way as the first, with NNSW racing to a seven-goal quarter-time lead and increasing it in the second to lead 31-22. This time, however, there was no third-quarter drop-off, with the Waratahs pushing their lead out each quarter to win 60-45.

The results leave NNSW with three wins from their first four ANL matches and well-placed for a big improvement on last year’s tournament total of five wins from 14 games.

Victorian Fury v Queensland Fusion

Vic Fury brought Queensland Fusion back down to earth after Fusion’s pair of victories against Territory Storm on ANL’s opening weekend, with Fury securing both wins to sit atop the ANL ladder on percentage.

They were made to earn it in a low-scoring arm wrestle on Saturday, with Fusion’s defence end bolstered by the inclusion of Firebirds Laura Clemesha and Kim Jenner, however with Fury’s Jacqui Newton and Rudi Ellis keeping Fusion goaling pair Amy Sommerville (10/19) and Alexia Baker (7/11) quiet in the first half, it was the Victorians who took a 21-14 lead into half-time.

Things opened up slightly for the visitors in the second half, however they couldn’t make major inroads and the Fury eased to a 41-35 win.

On Sunday the Fury welcomed Melbourne Vixens Sam Gooden, Khao Watts and Kadie-Ann Dehaney into their starting line-up, with devastating effect.

An 18-7 first quarter set the tone for the home side, and they went into half-time up 31-18. Gooden (34/40) exploded after shifting back to goal shooter in the third quarter, potting 16 goals for the term, while goal attack Sacha McDonald (9/10) netted four to help the Vics take the quarter 20-10, before running out 65-36 winners.

Territory Storm v Western Sting

Buoyed by the crowd at their first home game of the season, Territory Storm came desperately close to snaring their first ANL win in many years on Saturday when they took on reigning ANL premiers Western Sting.

Having endured multiple winless seasons and setting a pre-season goal of trying to win quarters before concerning themselves with winning games, the Storm looked set to turn that on its head when they trailed by just one goal at quarter-time and then tied things up, 26-26, at half-time.

While the Storm put their foot down in attack in the third quarter to pile on 14 goals, so too did the Sting, adding 19 to their score and opening up a five-goal advantage. A tight and tense final quarter saw the Sting hang on to pinch a 58-52 win.

Sunday told a very different tale, however, with Sting goal shooter Grace Parker running rampant on the way to a 82-40 result.

Parker finished with 59 goals from 70 attempts – the highest tally of any goaler in this year’s tournament thus far – as the Sting cracked the 100 mark for goal attempts (102).

The two wins sees Sting tied with the Fury, Waratahs and Tasmanian Magpies at the top of the ladder after two rounds.

Tasmanian Magpies v Southern Force

The Tasmanian Magpies underlined their ANL title credentials with two comprehensive wins against Southern Force in Melbourne.

Saturday’s game featured both team’s SSN training partners and barely a Tasmanian in sight, with the Magpies’ Cody Lange, Jane Cook, Vanessa Augustini, Sharni Lambden, Mel Bragg and Mary Livesey all in the starting seven.

Weight of supply to Cook under the post told the story, with her 62 attempts yielding 48 goals and seeing the ‘Pies enjoy 33 more shots at goal across the four quarters.

While the first half remained tight, with the scores 12-12 at quarter-time and 29-22 after 30 minutes, a third-quarter flurry saw the Magpies put the result beyond doubt, taking a 15-goal lead into the final quarter and cruising to a 62-45 win.

Sunday’s game saw the Force welcome Thunderbirds players Kate Shimmin, Hannah Petty and Abigail Latu-Meafou their line-up, while Tasmania added Alice Teague-Neeld, Kelsie Rainbow and Matilda Garrett.

Down by 11 at half-time, the Force hung tough to shave the gap to nine goals, with Thunderbirds goaler Sasha Glasgow (31/36) teaming well with Latu-Meafou. They continued eating into the Magpies’ lead in the last while restricting the supply to Cook, but the task was too great and Tasmania did enough to win 56-49.

The results leave Southern Force without a win from their four games in this year’s tournament thus far.