FINALS MATCH REPORT: Jets scratched out as QUT Wildcats claim historic grand final spot

FINALS MATCH REPORT: Jets scratched out as QUT Wildcats claim historic grand final spot

The QUT Wildcats are through to a historic first grand final following a gruelling match against the Jets that resulted in a lopsided score of 57 to 43 that didn’t reflect the goal-for-goal nature of much of the match.

From the beginning, both sides were determined, with a clear-eyed steely gaze. Neither team was going to let a bad case of the jitters steal their opportunity for a grand final spot.

In the first five minutes the Wildcats were 8 to the Jets’ 4 and it looked like we were in for another one-sided final, similar to last week’s Jets v Bull Sharks match.

But within a few minutes the Jets had regathered themselves and were back in the hunt. They tightened their defensive patterns and the QUT Wildcats were struggling to find a free player.

The first two quarters were a consistent goal-for-goal affair, with scores separated by just one goal.

At the end of the first quarter, the Wildcats had scored 14, to the Jets’ 13.

Mid-courters Leesa Mi Mi (WA) and Keshia Grant (C) were absolute work horses, driving the ball down to provide the feed into the circle.

Last week, Jets’ defender Bridey Condren (GK) silenced the Bond University Bull Sharks gun shooter, Sigi Burger (GS) and Condren was instrumental in creating early momentum for the Jets.

However, she was unable to replicate that same effectiveness against the taller and more experienced Aleesha Adams-Te Haara (GS), who claimed 94 per cent accuracy for the match, shooting 30 from 32 attempts.

Both Condren and her Jets co-defender Lia Woolnough (GD) struggled to contain the Wildcats in the circle for the length of the game, although had patches of effectiveness where they worked tight combinations and claimed the ball well.  

Young Wildcat Annabelle Lawrie (GA) shared the shooting load in this match, adding 25 to the scoresheet. While her accuracy was lower, at 69 per cent (25/36), her work rate can not be underplayed and her effectiveness as an impact player was impressive. The Year 12 student, who stepped up from Ruby division duties to replace the injured Reilley Batcheldore who is injured, acquitted herself exceptionally well at the Sapphire level.

At half time the score was 25 – 24 to the Wildcats, with both teams scoring 11 goals each.  

The third quarter is the championship quarter and is when endurance becomes a factor and experience is the decider. This is when the Wildcats stepped up a notch and the Jets failed to keep pace, with the Wildcats adding 15 to their bottom line, compared with the Jets’ 8.

Under the relentless defensive pressure from the Wildcats, the Jets started to wobble. An overcooked pass here, or a mis-timed pass there, and they’d lose the ball. Whenever this happened it always seemed as though Hulita Veve, who was last night named the HART Sapphire Series Katie Walker MVP recipient, was either the cause, or was there to scoop up the loose ball.

The third and fourth quarters were fertile hunting ground for Veve, who is the queen of the intercept. The former Firebird delivered when coach Paula Stuart needed her to.

Late in the third quarter, she thrilled the raucous crowd when, while falling out of court, was able to flick the ball back into play behind her, over the head of Jets’ Rosie Baker (GA) to Danielle Taylor (GD) in an absolutely stunning display of calm athleticism. Moments later she followed up with another incredible intercept, reading the play and darting forward to pluck the ball before it could land in Brooke Hams’ (C) outstretched hands.

Going into the final quarter the score was 40 – 32 to the Wildcats. They had the powerful talisman that is momentum and were charging towards the finish line at full speed.

In the final quarter Lawrie’s confidence ratcheted up a notch and she started sinking longer bombs from around the circle. She was receiving feeds like a pro and her effectiveness increased.

Certainly, a good number of the Wildcats’ growing score was due to rebounds that Lenora Misa (GK) and Taylor (GD) were able to pluck from the air. Jets brought Charlie Bell back on in the fourth quarter, perhaps with the hopes that her height could help win some of those rebounds, but it was to no avail.

With 10 minutes to go in the final quarter, it was as though the Jets had run out of steam. Umpiring decisions were challenged, frustrations mounted, and through it all the Wildcats just kept scoring.

The full-time score was 57 – 43.

The QUT Wildcats will now play the Brisbane North Cougars in the grand final, next Sunday, October 13 at QSNC. Purchase tickets here.

Quarter by quarter:

Q1: QUT Wildcats 14 – Jets 13

Q2: QUT Wildcats 11 – Jets 11

Q3: QUT Wildcats 15 – Jets 8

Q4: QUT Wildcats 17 – Jets 11

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