Second half fightback secures drought-breaking title


South Australia has ended a seven-year 17/U National Netball Championships title drought with a stirring 29-24 victory over New South Wales in the Grand Final at Perth’s State Netball Centre on Saturday afternoon.

A dominant second half performance saw SA claim its first crown in the 17/U age group since 2009.

New South Wales led by four goals mid-way through the third term before South Australia rallied.

A long-range goal to SA shooter Sophie Agostino virtually on the buzzer saw both teams head to three-quarter time locked together at 20-all.

SA then scored three unanswered goals to start the final term to take a grip on the match and powered away in the final few minutes to claim a memorable victory.

It was the third consecutive year that New South Wales has finished runners up in the 17/U age group.

_MCA9378LiWinning coach Lee-Anne Cummins believed playing in two draws during the week – ironically both coming on the same day – held her team in good stead.

“We stuck to the processes that we’ve been working on all week, which is our defensive efforts, and that got us back in the game,” Cummins said.

“I knew if they stuck to what I’d asked them to do that we’d certainly be in there with a chance right at the end.

“Playing in a couple of those high-pressure games during the week certainly helped us and girls can certainly be proud of their efforts throughout the week.”

There was an upset in the play-off for third and fourth with defending champions Queensland beating the highly-fancied Victoria 31-29 for the bronze medal._MCA0096Li

Victoria led by two goals at quarter-time but Queensland got on top in the second term to take an 18-16 advantage into the main break.

Scores were level at three-quarter time and the match see-sawed for most of the last quarter before Queensland pulled away late to claim victory.

Victoria went through the preliminary rounds unbeaten before losing narrowly to New South Wales in the semi-finals.

Western Australia won the play-off for fifth and sixth 38-8 over the ACT while Northern Territory defeated Tasmania 25-24 in the opening match of the day in the play-off for seventh and eighth.

It’s the first time since 2000 that the Territorians have finished the 17/U titles higher than eighth.

West Australian defender Olivia Lewis was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.