09 Nov Cougars into final after mounting late charge against Jets
The Cougars have reached their second HART Sapphire Series Final in as many seasons following a 51-45 victory over the minor premiers Jets in a highly entertaining encounter.
Last year’s runners-up had lost two of the three games leading into the semi-final, including one against the Jets, allowing the Ipswich side to sneak into first place on the ladder. However, it seems that Liz White managed to guide her players back to form when it mattered, as they produced an emphatic 20-7 run late on to seal the win.
The quality of each side’s defence largely nullified the other’s offence, and the contest featured 83 turnovers in just 60 minutes of netball. Three of those were caused by intercepts from Ruby Bakewell-Doran in the opening quarter, which the Cougars rapidly converted into goals courtesy of efficient transitions led by Chanel Dyer and Maddie Hinchliffe.
Tracey Jeanes-Fraser found her side 13-5 down within minutes but discovered a solution in the form of Rosie Baker. The Goal Attack initiated a shift in momentum, supplying vital energy in the final third and effectively occupying the defenders to create greater space for Charlie Bell, who rarely missed.
However, the Cougars were consistently converting more of their centre passes than the Jets and soon rebuilt a healthy lead. Bakewell-Doran and Remi Kamo punished the Jets’ hesitancy and daring in equal measure while in attack, the Cougars remained composed in the face of constant defensive pressure and adapted well to the challenges in front of them.
Another change, this time the introduction of Monique French at Centre, led the Jets to within a single goal at half-time and they carried that momentum into the third quarter. They soon took the lead, as the defensive trio of Bridey Condren, Siobhan Shirlaw and Mikeeley Hoch formed an impassable barrier at the transverse line.
Liz White decided this was the moment to inject Martina Reekers into the game, and she was proved right almost immediately. The young shooter quickly scored five goals in a row, several the product of yet more Bakewell-Doran intercepts, and benefitted from the temporary absence of Condren as her height was unmatched by the Jets defence.
Condren re-entered the game for the last quarter, but by that stage the Cougars had found their rhythm, reversing their trend of dominating games early and losing concentration late. Bella Sorby contributed a series of intercepts of her own, and the likes of Dyer and Hinchliffe incisively moved the ball down the court to open an insurmountable 48-39 lead.
The Jets were deflated after exerting so much energy to chase down the Cougars’ previous leads and the intensity of their opponents had a greater effect as breaks and loose passes crept into their play. A few late goals reduced the margin slightly, but there was simply not enough time for Tracey Jeanes-Fraser’s side to change the outcome of the game.
While the Cougars now have a week to rest and train before the final, the Jets have to defeat the Thunder at Nissan Arena on November 14th to get the opportunity to avenge this defeat and relegate the Cougars to runners-up for the second year in a row.
Jets 45 Cougars 51