06 Oct Bull Sharks claim first win while the Jets and Cougars march on
The Bond University Bull Sharks have recorded their first victory of the 2020 HART Sapphire Series after triumphing 51-43 over the Carina Leagues Club Tigers.
Captain Kristen Oxenford was playing her 100th game at this level and inspired her team to produce their most impressive performance of the season so far, forming an additional layer of defence and acting as the source of many attacking movements.
After racing to a 15-9 lead in the first quarter, the Bull Sharks completed an emphatic 10-0 run in the second to extend their advantage to 16 goals by half time. Stephanie Bairstow continued her improvement in the goal circle while the defensive partnership of Emily Gilbert and Shenae Grant effectively nullified the threat of Amy Sommerville in the former’s second Sapphire Series start.
The Tigers could not find a consistent rhythm until the final term, when they reduced the deficit by 8 goals by securing several turnovers against a Bull Sharks side that was likely fatigued following an energetic showing over the first three-quarters of the fixture.
Unfortunately for them, however, the margin established early by their opponents proved too large to close and the Bull Sharks left the court as deserving winners. Only 3 points now separate the pair as they look to climb the ladder in the coming weeks.
Bull Sharks 51 Tigers 43
The Jets returned to the Sapphire Series a fortnight after their first defeat of the season against the Cougars and faced a USC Thunder side that they bettered by 21 goals earlier in the campaign.
Key Thunder players Binnian Hunt and Ashlee Unie missed the first half of the game while travelling from their Suncorp Super Netball fixture and the Jets capitalised, opening a 10-goal lead.
Unie’s absence prompted Coach Garry Pashen to move Lily-May Catling to Wing Defence and promote the young Adrienne Keeffe to Goalkeeper. Keefe seized the opportunity to display her worth to the team and together with Catling and Sarahpheinna Woulf frustrated the opposing attack.
However, the Jets demonstrated their quality by adapting to the pressure applied. Stephanie O’Brien provided ample attacking impetus and managed to unlock the Thunder defence to feed Lucinda Benjamin and Charlie Bell, the latter of whom showed her ability to shoot from range when needed.
The Thunder were resilient as they attempted to avoid a second defeat to the Jets in as many games and the return of Hunt and Unie led them to win the third quarter 11-9, claiming valuable competition points and keeping their opponents within reach.
Ultimately the Jets’ strengths outweighed their flaws and they extended their lead late on to deliver a 61-48 victory. Bella Rynne impressed in the circle after being awarded her first Sapphire Series minutes in the closing stages and underlined the options available to Tracey Jeanes-Fraser as her side continues their journey to finals.
Jets 61 Thunder 48
In the last fixture of the round the Jets’ victors the Cougars faced last year’s champions the Wildcats for a second repeat of the Grand Final after comfortably winning the prior meeting by 20 goals.
The latest instalment in the teams’ rivalry was far more competitive as the Wildcats strove to prove that they are still contenders for the title in 2020, winning two quarters and tenaciously fighting until the end in a narrow 51-44 defeat.
Rylie Holland, who has excelled as the Cougar’s Goal Shooter this season, suffered an injury prior to the game and the Wildcats defence of Nora Misa and Danielle Taylor took advantage of the resulting lack of physicality in the Cougars attack early on, forcing Mia Stower and Holland’s replacement Martina Reekers to exert themselves more than usual for each goal.
The Cougars settled into their pace and rhythm from the second quarter onwards and skilfully accommodated the different shooting combination. Maddie Hinchliffe typified the patience and composure that has defined her side this year across both Centre and Wing Defence and the Wildcats trailed by 10 goals heading into the final term.
However, Danielle Edwards’ forces never gave up. The Wildcats wore shirts and displayed flags celebrating their diversity and, on the court, showed what they can achieve when working well together, rapidly reducing the deficit to as little as 4 goals through smooth transitions and accurate shooting from talisman Beryl Friday before falling just short of their goal.
Cougars 51 Wildcats 44