ERNA Hawks live to fight another day in Opens

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ERNA Hawks have secured a place in the second round of the Samsung Premier League finals, knocking out Sutherland Stingrays with a convincing 55-42 win at the Genea Netball Centre on Wednesday 6 September.

ERNA will now play UTS St George Sparks in next week’s Preliminary Final for a place in the decider against Manly Warringah Sapphires. The latter saw the Sparks off 56-54 in the Major Semi Final to book their spot at the big dance – READ MATCH REPORT HERE.

Despite coming into the Semi-Final in fourth position, Hawks proved that there is little separating the top-of-table teams in the Open division, taking an early lead in the game.

Strong Hawks circle defence put pressure on the Stingrays shooters early, forcing long shots.  Sutherland GA Braeden Quince sunk some impressive goals from near the circle edge, helping Stingrays maintain their stake in the game but it was ERNA who were rewarded with the lead.

The Hawks’ defensive strength was complemented by a fast moving centre-court duo of Taylah Davies (WA) and Emily Keenan (C), and an incredible 100% first quarter shooting accuracy from Amy Somerville (GS) and Kiera Austin (GA). This solidified the Hawks’ early lead by the end of the first quarter, 16-10.

Sutherland took to the second quarter looking to regain lost ground, their circle defence on the hunt for intercepts and floating high in the goal circle in search of cross-court passes and weaker feeds.

The Hawks attack felt the pressure, but long drives down the court saw their midcourt hit the circle edge strongly, opening more feeding opportunities and extending their lead to 31-21 heading into the second half.

Despite the scoreboard, it was a fight for every goal in the penultimate quarter. Less steady than the previous quarters, both teams made some unforced errors and the opening minutes were littered with circle miss-feeds and turnovers in the fight for control.

It was Hawks who regained their feet first, securing a series of goals at the end of the third quarter to lead 42-30 at the final break.

With a deficit of twelve, it would be an uphill battle for Sutherland to steal the lead from ERNA. Stingrays C Madeline Hay delivered a much needed intercept in the very first seconds of the final quarter and their strong defence held up Hawks in attack and opened opportunities for turnovers.

However, ERNA’s accuracy and patience through the midcourt helped them maintain possession and their lead. The match ended with ERNA convincingly defeating Sutherland 55-42, securing their spot in next week’s Prelim.

Quarter-by-quarter scores
STINGRAYS | Q1: 10 – Q2: 21 (11) Q3: 30 (9) Q4: 42 (12)
HAWKS | Q2: 16 – Q2: 31 (15) Q3: 42 (11) Q4: 55 (13)

Starting Line-Ups
STINGRAYS | GS Melissa Tallent, GA Braeden Quince, WA Donnay Van Taak, C Madeline Hay, WD Madeline Woods, GD Katie Maguire, GK Sarah Tatum
HAWKS | GS Amy Somerville, GA Kiera Austin, WA Taylah Davies, C Emily Keenan, WD Sophie Halpin, GD Jessica Grant (Calderara), GK Madeline Lakajev

Shooting Statistics
STINGRAYS | 42/61 @ 69%
M Tallent: 26/36 @ 72%
B Quince: 16/25 @ 64%

HAWKS | 55/64 @ 86%
A Somerville: 24/28 @ 86%
K Austin: 31/36 @ 86%

Match report by Emma Hayman