The Manly Warringah Sapphires have booked their place in the 2016 SAMSUNG Premier League Opens Division Grand Final after a 61-41 win over North Shore United at Netball Central on Wednesday, 17 August.
The Sapphires will now play Minor Premiers, the Sutherland Stingrays, for the right to be named the inaugural winners of Netball NSW’s newest elite competition.
A superb third quarter proved key for the Sapphires who, having topped the table for most of the regular season, had too much for United on the night.
It was a fast and furious opening to the game as both sides looked to play quick, intense netball. All four shooters looked in the zone early on too with Georgia Marshall and Lauren Cantwell getting the Sapphires up and running, while Kadeen Corbin and Emily Moore did the business for United.
Manly Warringah edged the early exchanges to have a 7-5 lead midway through the first quarter but both sides were playing well. Marshall was shooting and rebounding brilliantly for the Sapphires, and took her side to out to a three-goal lead on numerous occasions before United hit back to reduce the deficit to two at the first break.
The Sapphires’ defence was making life difficult for the United attack with goal keeper Teigan O’Shannassy forcing Corbin to shoot from range on a lot of occasions. Manly were also getting on top in the midcourt with Victoria Trist and Ash Fong unable to exert as much influence as they had done in United’s extra-time win over Central Coast Heart last week.
Meanwhile, Marshall and Cantwell kept the scoreboard ticking over and before long the Sapphires and an eight-goal (25-17) lead. But United showed good resolve just before halftime to reduce that to six and keep the Sapphires well within their sights at the big break.
But that would be as good as it got for the North Shore side.
The third quarter was a humdinger of an affair as both sides went at it hammer and tongs. The play wasn’t as fluent as it had been in earlier quarters but the commitment from the teams was impressive.
The Sapphires continued to edge the game and slowly built their lead back up to seven as North Shore tried in vain to make a dent in the margin. There cause wasn’t helped when precise long passing into Miller allowed her, and Cantwell, score in quick succession to give the Sapphires a 12-goal lead at the final break.
United needed a rip-roaring start to the fourth quarter to have any hope of victory but it wasn’t forthcoming and Manly Warringah were able to control the pace of the game and grow their lead at the same time. With 10 minutes on the clock their advantage was 17 goals and a Grand Final place looked beyond North Shore.
To their credit they kept trying but Manly Warringah continued to get strongers as the game went on and finished strong to secure a 20-goal win and send a warning to the Stingrays ahead of next week’s Final.
SAPPHIRES | Q1: 15 – Q2: 28 (13) – Q3: 44 (16) – Q4: 61 (17)
UNITED | Q1: 13 – Q2: 22 (9) – Q3: 32 (10) – Q4: 41 (9)
SAPPHIRES 61/72 @ 85%
G Marshall: 36/41 @ 88%
L Cantwell: 25/31 @ 81%
UNITED: 41/51 @ 80%
K Corbin: 25/29 @ 86%
E Moore: 12/17 @ 71%
A Miller: 4/5 @ 80%
SAPPHIRES | GS Georgia Marshall, GA Lauren Cantwell, WA Brooke Miller, C Nikki Deegenaars, WD Victoria Low, GD Eliza Long, GK Teigan O’Shannassy.
UNITED | GS Kadeen Corbin, GA Emily Moore, WA Victoria Trist, C Hayley Wilson, WD Jaimie McKee, GD Ash Fong, GK Nardia Macdonald.