The last time South Australia won the 21/U National Netball Championship was at Challenge Stadium, Perth; eight years on the state will get another shot at winning the coveted title at the same venue on Sunday.
South Australia are one win away from claiming the 21/U National title for the first time since 2004 when they takes on New South Wales in the Grand Final, the first time the two sides will meet in the decider in nine years.
The South Australians were first through to the decider on Saturday with a thrilling 50-48 victory over the previously undefeated hosts Western Australia with an impressive performance from start to finish.
Trailing 14-10 at quarter-time, WA fought their way back into the game and leveled the scores ten minutes into the second stanza before Laura Packard and Chelsea Lemke shot the South Australians back into the lead at half-time, up 27-24.
With both sides guilty of turnovers, Adelaide Thunderbirds member Maddy Proud dicated the mid-court to see her side maintain a three goal advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
Spurred on by the vocal WA crowd, the hosts battled their way back into the game to tie the game 44-all with five minutes to play.
The calmness of South Australia prevailing in the dying minutes to book themselves a deserved spot in the Grand Final against New South Wales, who are chasing their fifth consecutive 21/U National title.
Like SA, New South Wales had to beat a previously undefeated opponent in the semi-final to progress through to tomorrow’s Grand Final, which they did with a 45-37 win over Victoria.
A replay of last year’s Grand Final lived up to expectation with neither side giving an inch in pursuit of qualifying for the decider, the result was a tightly contested and hard fought 60 minutes.
After an even first quarter, Victoria netted the first three goals of the second quarter to overcome the one goal quarter-time deficit and lead by two until NSW responded with five consecutive goals to set up a 22-17 half-time lead.
With the game still up for grabs in the second half, neither side could gain the ascendency as NSW ever so slowly pulled further ahead courtesy of accurate shooting under pressure from Kristine Brice, who finished with match winning figures of 32 goals from 36 attempts.
Trailing 35-29 at three-quarter time, Victoria couldn’t work their way back into the match as New South Wales hung on to win by eight goals and qualify for the Grand Final.
The defeated, Western Australia and Victoria, will contest Sunday’s 3/4 Playoff.
Queensland defeated Tasmania 62-32 to qualify for tomorrow’s 5/6 Playoff against the Australian Capital Territory, who defeated Northern Territory 41-37.
Tasmania and NT will compete in the 7/8 Playoff.
South Australia (50) defeated Western Australia (48)
New South Wales (45) defeated Victoria (37)
Queensland (62) defeated Tasmania (32)
ACT (41) defeated Northern Territory (37)
Final Day Fixtures
7/8 Playoff – Tasmania v Northern Territory – 9.00am
5/6 Playoff – Queensland v ACT – 9.00am
3/4 Playoff – Western Australia v Victoria – 10:45am
Grand Final – South Australia v New South Wales – 12.30pm
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