UTS St George Sparks have booked their place in the 2016 SAMSUNG Premier League Under 20s Grand Final after withholding a competitive Sutherland Stingrays outfit in the Major Semi Final at Netball Central on Wednesday, 10 August.
It was a strong start from the Stingrays who began the match with possession but the Sparks’ defence was equally up to the challenge, denying all entry into the circle. Through the hard work of circle defenders Paige Pirotta and Angela Cloeraine, the Sparks were able to snatch possession with their Goal Shooter Tayla Black duly rewarding their efforts by scoring the opening goal.
The tight contest continued throughout the opening minutes as the teams traded goals. The Stingrays were able to recover from their nervous start to gain the lead through strong service from the midcourt, as well as Captain Tara Storenbeker and Abby Tilburg creating turnovers in Sparks’ attacking end.
The Stingrays came storming into the second quarter to open up an early four-goal lead and looked for all money to be in control of the match. But credit to the Sparks who continued to work hard and by halfway through the term they began to switch momentum into their favour.
Through the relentless work of their defence, the midcourters provided strong possession to their shooters to have an impact on the scoreboard with Black and Eaton combining well despite attention from Stingrays’ circle defenders.
Their efforts were rewarded with the Sparks turning around a one-goal deficit at quarter time, to lead 21-20 at the big break.
The Stingrays made wholesale changes to their line-up for the start of the second half, looking to introduce fresh legs into the match and also reinvigorate the side after the Sparks controlled much of the second quarter.
But the game continued to see-saw and neither side could gain ascendency over the other – the greatest lead going to Sutherland, but it was only two goals. Despite the Sparks getting close the Stingrays held onto their advantage at the final break.
With a Grand Final appearance on the line both sides threw everything into the game to try and gain the advantage; the scoreboard reflected the contest, as it switched between Sparks and Stingrays in the lead.
But in the end the Minor Premiers, Sparks, were able to hold on to claim a 40-39 victory to earn themselves a rest next Wednesday. Meanwhile, the Stingrays still have another chance at featuring in the title decider when they meet the Panthers in the Preliminary Final next Wednesday evening, 17 August, at 7:00pm.
SPARKS | Q1: 9 – Q2: 21 (12) – Q3: 30 (9) – Q4: 40 (10)
STINGRAYS | Q1: 10 – Q2: 20 (10) – Q3: 31 (11) – Q4: 39 (8)
SPARKS: 40/56 @ 71%
T. Black: 16/20 @ 80%
M. Eaton: 24/36 @ 67%
STINGRAYS: 39/48 @ 81%
D. Koli: 23/26 @ 88%
S. Mallon: 7/11 @ 64%
R. McCray: 9/11 @ 82%
SPARKS | GS Tayla Black, GA Maddy Eaton, WA Tanisha Hunt, C Olivia Lennon, WD Jazmin Tweddle-O’Donnell, GD Paige Pirotta, GK Angela Cloeraine
STINGRAYS | GS Delilah Koli, GA Shelby Mallon, WA Alexa Cardassilaris, C Lili Gorman-Brown, WD Britney Pierce, GD Tara Storenbeker, GK Abby Tilburg