History beckons for Fury in ANL Finals

ANL Round 7

The Victorian Fury and NSW Waratahs met in last season’s Grand Final in Adelaide – the third time they had played off for the title – and the two sides are back at the same venue where they played arguably the game of the season in the final round of matches last weekend.

The Fury won by two goals in a match that went to double extra-time and head into the Semi-Final on the back of a 21-game winning streak.

The Victorian side has won the past three contests between the two teams and holds a 6-4 advantage in overall head-to-head records.

The Waratahs were the highest-scoring team this season, averaging just under 70 goals a match with shooter Kristina Brice already eclipsing the team’s record for the most goals shot in a season.

Heading into the finals, Brice has scored 420 goals at just under 94 per cent accuracy and an average of 46.7 goals a match. The Waratahs’ previous best was held by current Australian Diamond squad member Erin Bell, who shot 267 goals in 2009.

Brice has also surpassed her best ever ANL season, when she shot 344 goals at 84 per cent accuracy while playing with the AIS in 2012.

The two Semi-Final winners will clash in Sunday’s Grand Final at 12noon with the play-off for third and fourth at 10am.

On Saturday night the Western Sting and QLD Fusion clash in the second semi-final in Melbourne.

Neither Sting or Fusion have qualified for the Grand Final in the six previous seasons of the ANL so both sides will take to the court at the Waverley Netball Centre eager to advance to Sunday’s season decider and have a chance to claim their first title.

Sting heads into its first finals appearance since 2012 on the back of a record-equaling five-game winning streak.

Coincidently, the team’s last defeat came against the Fusion in Week 4 in Brisbane when they lost by 13 goals.

Fusion is making its first finals appearance since 2011 and secured a spot courtesy of a record seven-game winning streak during the season.

Fusion and Sting have met once previously in a final, in the play-off for third and fourth back in 2011 – also at the Waverley Netball Centre – which the Sting won 51-48.

However, Fusion holds a 5-3 advantage in overall head-to-head meetings between the two teams.

The first semi-final is between the competition’s two powerhouse sides; Victorian Fury and Netball NSW Waratahs.

VICTORIAN FURY v NETBALL NSW WARATAHS
Saturday, August 23, 5:00PM
Waverley Netball Centre

Head-to-head:

  Fury Waratahs
Games Played 10 10
Win / Loss 6 / 4 4 / 6
Highest Score 71 69
Lowest Score 40 45
Greatest Winning Margin 24 10

Previous Finals meetings:
Grand Final, 2010: Fury 54 def Waratahs 47, Waverley Netball Centre
Grand Final, 2011: Waratahs 55 def Fury 46, Waverley Netball Centre
Grand Final, 2013: Fury 56 def Waratahs 51, Netball SA Stadium, Adelaide

LAST WORD FROM THE COACHES

Kristy Keppich-Birrel, Fury: “The 2014 Fury squad truly represents the Victorian brand of excellence both on and off the court. Our unique mix of experience and youth has created a very special team of players who strive to play at their best for their team mates and the pride of their state. It might be a relatively short season but the development of individuals, units and the team as a whole has been nothing short of remarkable. What sets us apart from the rest of the teams is our absolute belief in each other and our plan. We cannot wait for the extra pressure of finals netball.”

Anita Keelan, Waratahs: “We’ve been very happy with the girls’ performance in 2014 and really looking forward to the excitement of contesting Finals once again. Last weekend proved a tough battle against the Fury and, despite the double extra-time loss, we know we can take it to the defending champions. We have a great playing group who have enjoyed the challenges of the ANL competition, and it would be a terrific reward to see them crowned 2014 champions.”

WESTERN STING v QUEENSLAND FUSION
Saturday, August 23, 7:00PM
Waverley Netball Centre

Head-to-head:

  Sting Fusion
Games Played 8 8
Win / Loss 3 / 5 5 / 3
Highest Score 65 69
Lowest Score 48 47
Greatest Winning Margin 18 19

Previous Finals meeting:
Preliminary Final, 2011: Sting 51 def Fusion 48, Waverley Netball Centre

LAST WORD FROM THE COACHES

Stacey Rosman, Sting: “Everything we have trained for has been transferred in a game situation. Since our loss against Queensland we haven’t dropped a game and our game plan has evolved. There’s a unity and a culture that’s being developed amongst this group and you can see that we’re taking things in a new direction. We have a great blend of experience and youth in the playing group and they’re playing an exciting brand of netball.”

Kylee Byrne, Fusion: “This team is such an exciting mix of experienced elite level netballers and also talented, young future stars of our game. This finals series for us is three years in the making and the feeling in this group is so positive. They are ready to fire this weekend. We are leaving no stone unturned and believe we have the team which will win Queensland its first ANL Championship.”