Western Sting have been crowned Australian Netball League (ANL) Champions for the first time this afternoon, following a comprehensive 16 goal victory over Vic Fury in the Gold Medal Match at the State Netball Centre.
A dominant two quarters either side of halftime built the platform for the historic win, enabling Sting to breakthrough for their first ever ANL title in front of a passionate home crowd.
Head Coach Michelle Wilkins was jubilant post-game, praising her players’ commitment to each other.
“I don’t think I’ve coached a team who works as hard for each other as this group,” Wilkins said.
“The manner in which they played out those four quarters I think it was pretty obvious nothing was going to stop them today.”
“From the moment they arrived today they were incredibly focussed and clear on what was required, and what we saw on court was a very clear example of the determination this team possesses.”
“The result is a just reward for their effort and I’m incredibly proud of what we have achieved this season, made all the more sweeter by a Gold medal.”
Fury established an early scoreboard advantage in the first quarter, as the visitors capitalised on turnover ball and converted their opportunities.
The home side weathered the onslaught though to find their rhythm and level the scores by the quarter time break.
In an almost mirror image to the beginning of the game, the opening stages of the second stanza saw Fury again assert their authority, skipping out to a three goal lead.
A patient Sting defence continued to apply pressure to the visitor’s ball movement before their persistence paid off, with Olivia Lewis and Jess Penny affecting a string of consecutive interceptions to again level the score.
Buoyed by both momentum and a passionate home crowd at the State Netball Centre, Sting took full advantage of an unsettled Fury outfit to take the lead for the first time in the contest, securing a seven goal advantage at the main interval.
The West Coast side resumed the third stanza in emphatic fashion, stifling Fury’s second phase and forcing a series of turnovers in the process as the Victorian’s pushed their passes in frustration.
The seven goal buffer from halftime was doubled in the blink of an eye as Sting completely shut their opponents out of the penultimate quarter to hold a 14 goal lead at the final break.
With their season on the line, Fury took the ascendency at the beginning of the final quarter to make a minor indent in Sting’s lead, cutting the margin back to single figures.
The home side responded in kind though, determined to put the icing on what had been a dominant performance through three quarters, reaffirming their authority in the final ten minutes to eventually secure a historic 16 goal victory.
Sting Goal Shooter Sophie Garbin capped a remarkable individual season, in which she broke the ANL goal scoring record, by being named the Grand Final’s Most Valuable Player (MVP).
The win held extra significance for the West Australian side, doubling as the final game for Head Coach Michelle Wilkins.
Western Sting – 63
Vic Fury – 47