This weekend will mark the beginning of three very different journeys when the opening round of the 2013 Australian Netball League kicks off at the University of Sunshine Coast in Queensland and Anne Clarke Centre in Sydney.


While the trio share the fact that they all take the court in the first round, the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), Southern Force and Victorian Flames enter this year’s competition with varying aims.

For the AIS, this weekend is the first step towards retaining the World Youth Netball Championship. The Canberra-based residential side is made up of Australia’s 21/U team, who will next month travel to Glasgow to defend the title they’ve won in three of the five previous edition but first they must take on the Western Sting and QLD Fusion on Saturday and Sunday respectively.

The Force come into this season as defending champions after defeating the Netball NSW Waratahs 50-36 in last year’s decider. The Force dropped just one game last year against the AIS in the final round before going on to claim their maiden premiership and end the Victory Fury and Waratahs’ dominance. The South Australians face a Victorian double in the opening round when they take on the Fury, a side they beat for the first time last year, 59-49 in Round 3, and the Flames.

The ANL’s newest team, the Flames, make their long awaited national league debut against the defending champions, Force, on Saturday. The Flames join Victoria’s existing team, the Fury, in what will be the first time that the state has fielded two sides in the underpinning competition –providing more opportunities for the promising players coming through the high performance pathway.

The Waratahs and Fury renew their interstate rivalry on Saturday, a contest which has extended to two Grand Final in three years when the Fury won  54-47 in 2010 followed by the Waratahs winning 55-46 the following year. The Waratahs wrap up their opening weekend against the Flames on Sunday.

The Western Sting are coming off the team’s most successful ANL season in which they won seven of nine games, eclipsing their previous season best of six wins in 2011. For the second year in a row, the Western Sting and AIS will kick off the Australian Netball League season followed by the Territory Storm on Sunday.

The Fusion have only ever lost one opening round game, going down 55-53 to the AIS last year, but take on the Storm, a side they’ve never lost two in six previous meetings, on Saturday at the University of Sunshine Coast.

The Territory Storm open their 2013 ANL account against the Sting and Storm as they look to build on last year’s equal best ever finish when they ended the season in eighth.

The Tassie Spirit, Canberra Darters and NNSW Blues have the bye.

Week 1 Fixture:

Saturday 6 July

Western Sting v AIS
Health and Sport Centre, University of Sunshine Coast

QLD Fusion v Territory Storm
Health and Sport Centre, University of Sunshine Coast

Victorian Fury v NSW Waratahs
Anne Clarke Centre

Victorian Flames v Southern Force
Anne Clarke Centre

Sunday 7 July

Western Sting v Territory Storm
Health and Sport Centre, University of Sunshine Coast

AIS v QLD Fusion
Health and Sport Centre, University of Sunshine Coast

NSW Waratahs v Victorian Flames
Anne Clarke Centre

Southern Force v Victorian Fury
Anne Clarke Centre

Tassie Spirit
Canberra Darters
NSW Blues