Sparks finalise Grand Final fixtures

//Sparks finalise Grand Final fixtures

UTS St George Sparks enjoyed a successful night at Genea Netball Centre on Wednesday evening, 13 September, with both their Opens and Under 20s teams securing their place in next week’s title deciders.

The Under 20s division will get Grand Final week underway next Tuesday night, 19 September, with the Sparks to meet defending Champions Panthers at 7.30pm. Premier League action continues the following night, Wednesday 20 September, with a re-match of last week’s thrilling Semi Final between Minor Premiers the Sparks and Manly Warringah Sapphires.

See how last night’s games played out at Genea Netball Centre, and get excited for next week >>> SECURE YOUR GRAND FINAL TICKETS HERE.

PRELIMINARY FINAL: UTS St George Sparks 58 d ERNA Hawks 44

UTS have secured their place in the Samsung Premier League U20s Grand Final next week, after defeating ERNA, 58-44, in the sudden-death Preliminary Final.

It was do-or-die for both teams as they battled it out for a position in the title decider, and it was clear from the opening whistle that both teams had turned up to give it all they’ve got.

Navigating nerves to settle into the game, the opening minutes featured numerous turnovers from both teams. However the Hawks strong defence disrupted any flow in the UTS attacking end, forcing their opposition to undertake dangerous cross-court passes and stalling the circle feeds.

However, Spark’s midcourt were also just as impressive as they quickly transitioned to defender to stifle many conversion opportunities for Hawks – cutting off short drives and picking off long ball clearing attempts with solid intercepts as ERNA tried to move the ball to their attack end. Their efforts were rewarded with UTS enjoying a slight three-goal advantage at the first break.

After a stop-start opening 15 minutes, the Sparks began to find some momentum early in the second quarter. Their fast, yet controlled, game helped them evade the Hawk’s defence that had held them up in the first quarter.

The Sparks shooting combination of Georgia Westwood (GS) and Maddy Eaton (GA) grew with confidence as the game went on, and soon they began to have greater influence on the game. Their fluid movements and strong aerial capabilities helped extend Sparks lead to eight goals at the big break, after withholding a strong ERNA fightback in the shadows of half-time.

A rejuvenated Hawks side come out for the second half, determined to catch their opponents on the scoreboard. They looked to swing momentum after stalling their opposition’s opening centre pass, but the Sparks had other ideas.

With Centre Kaitlyn Fisher proving a powerhouse in the midcourt, combining well with defenders Paige Pirotta and Matilda McDonell, the Sparks were able to easily find their shooters in the circle to outscore the Hawks for the third consecutive quarter, putting UTS in a strong position as the game entered the final term.

Deciding on a raft of positional changes for the final 5 minutes, ERNA threw everything they had into the game to try and make up the scoreboard deficit. Centre Ebony Burnard won an impressive turnover for the Hawks by balancing precariously on the sideline, before safely clearing the ball for newly-introduced goal attack Sophie Dwyer to convert.

But the Hawks had no answers for preventing the Sparks quick ball movement, which was aided by strong driving down court from McDonell who had moved out to goal defence for the end of the game. Combined with strong rebounding at both ends, matched with patience and accuracy while in possession, the Sparks put an end to any Hawk’s resurgence to finish 15-goal victors.

UTS will now meet the Panthers in next week’s Grand Final on the Show Court at Genea Netball Centre, Tuesday 19 September at 7.30pm >>> GET YOUR GRAND FINAL TICKETS HERE.

Quarter-by-Quarter Scores
SPARKS | Q1: 14 – Q2: 30 (16) – Q3: 43 (13) – Q4: 58 (15)
HAWKS | Q1: 11 – Q2: 22 (11) – Q3: 29 (7) – Q4: 43 (14)

Starting Line-Ups
SPARKS | GS Georgia Westwood, GA Madeline Eaton, WA Tahisha Hunt, C Kaitlyn Fisher, WD Te-Arn Bradley, GD Paige Pirotta, GK Matilda McDonell.

HAWKS | GS Sophie Dwyer, GA Lauren Baxter, WA Ebony Burnard, C Capri Vidler, WD Chelsea Loughrey, GD Deni Ross, GK Olivia Coleman.

Positional Changes
SPARKS | Q4 Timeout: WD Paige Pirotta, GD Matilda McDonell, GK Ashleigh Selwyn.

HAWKS | Q3: WA R Quinn, C E Burnard; Q3 Timeout: GS Dellilah Koli, GD Sophie Kevern; Q4: GA Dwyer, WD Kevern, GD Coleman, GK Macey Duncan.

Shooting Statistics
SPARKS: 58/72 @ 81%
G Westwood: 28/35 @80%
M Eaton: 30/37 @ 81%

HAWKS: 43/56 @ 77%
S Dwyer: 26/32 @ 81%
L Baxter: 11/14 @ 79%
D Koli: 6/10 @ 60%

Major Semi Final | Panthers 48 d UTS St George Sparks 41
Minor Semi Final | ERNA Hawks 48 d GWS Fury 47
Preliminary Final | UTS St George Sparks 58 d ERNA Hawks 44
Grand Final | Panthers v UTS St George Sparks, 7.30pm TUE 19 SEP


PRELIMINARY FINAL: UTS St George Sparks 63 d ERNA Hawks 44

The stage is set for an exciting Semi Final rematch after UTS St George Sparks convincingly overcame ERNA Hawks, 63-44, in last night’s sudden-death Preliminary Final. As a result, the Sparks will meet Manly Warringah Sapphires who narrowly defeated them by two goals in the Major Semi Final, setting the scene for another exciting match-up between the rivals.

Sparks managed to secure an early lead on the scoreboard last night against the Hawks, with goal shooter Kristina Brice providing a strong target in the circle, while goal defence Nicole Styles worked overtime to win possession in the Hawks’ attacking third.

However the Hawks weren’t to be deterred and, after being down by as many as five goals early in the game, clawed their way back to within level to see the game go goal-for-goal. So this continued until, in the quarter’s final minute, solid defensive pressure rewarded UTS with a crucial possession gain, giving them a slight advantage on the scoreboard to end the opening term up by two.

The Hawks continued to put the pressure on the UTS attack as the game recommenced, with wing defence Sophie Halpin winning two key intercepts in a row. However her teammates couldn’t convert their opportunities thanks to a strong opposition defence, giving the Sparks a little breathing space.

With another late surge, the Sparks extended their advantage to eight goals at the big break, 30-22.

And if the opening half had been a motion of momentum switch, the penultimate quarter belonged solely to the Sparks. UTS were unstoppable as they went on to outscore the Hawks, 20 goals to 10, to take control of the game. With their defence on the hunt for intercepts, the Sparks were quick to transition from, and capitalise on, their turnovers.

Staring at an 18-goal deficit heading into the final stanza, the Hawks had a huge task on their hands. However credit to the side who did not give up the fight, taking it to UTS for the rest of the game. After making a few positional changes in their attacking end, the Hawks were able to regain some of the momentum lost in the third quarter.

Keeper Madeleine Lakajev won two key intercepts in a row to lift her side; however it was all a little too late as the Sparks’ third quarter performance helped set up their 19-goal win to see them through to the title decider >>> GET YOUR GRAND FINAL TICKETS HERE.

Quarter-by-Quarter Scores
SPARKS | Q1: 15 – Q2: 30 (15) – Q3: 50 (20) – Q4: 63 (13)
HAWKS | Q2: 13 – Q2: 22 (9) – Q3: 32 (10) – Q4: 44 (12)

Starting Line-Ups
SPARKS | GS Kristina Brice, GA Beryl Friday, WA Kaitlyn Bryce, C Tayla Fraser, WD Amy Parmenter, GD Nicole Styles, GK Kara Styles.

HAWKS | GS Amy Sommerville, GA Kiera Austin, WA Taylah Davies, C Emily Keenan, WD Sophie Halpin, GD Jessica Grant (Calderara), GK Madeleine Lakajev.

Shooting Statistics
SPARKS: 63/75 @ 84%
K Brice: 40/47 @ 85%
B Friday: 22/26 @ 85%
L Towell: 1/2 @ 50%

HAWKS: 44/58 @ 75%
A Sommerville: 16/19 @ 84%
K Austin: 11/18 @ 61%
A Cairns: 11/14 @ 79%
E Bills: 6/7 @ 86%

Positional Changes
SPARKS | Q3: WA Claire O’Brien, C Bryce; Q4 Timeout: GA Laura Towell; Q4 Timeout (2): GK Olivia Rowntree.

HAWKS | Q3 Timeout: GS Alisha Cairns; Q4: GA Emily Bills, GD Laura McLaren, GK Jessica Grant.

Major Semi Final | Manly Warringah Sapphires 56 d UTS St George Sparks 54
Minor Semi Final | ERNA Hawks 55 d Sutherland Stingrays 42
Preliminary Final | UTS St George Sparks 63 d ERNA Hawks 44
Grand Final | Manly Warringah Sapphires v UTS St George Sparks, 7.30pm WED 20 SEP