The Coastal Sharks have been crowned the West Australian Netball League Premiers after a nail-biting win over the Perth Lions, taking the grand final match 50-47.
The Sharks, who lost the premiership to the West Coast Warriors in 2017 by just one goal, looked promising the whole season, suffering only one loss and a draw, to a massive 10 wins.
“It’s so satisfying, some of the girls have been around a lot longer than I have,” said head coach Terri Nielson, “But at the end of the day, when that final siren went off I was right there alongside the girls feeling every bit of it.”
Captain Jessica Penny, who captained the team during last year’s loss was soaking up every moment.
“We really felt the burn last year, so it’s really great to win this one, and to go out with a bang, especially with-it being Liv’s last game.”
Olivia Lewis recently signed a full-time contract with the West Coast Fever, and was named MVP for the match.
The Sharks looked good from the get go, winning the first turnover of the match and quickly establishing a 5-1 lead. Attackers Courtney Kruta and Brittany Turnbull were patient around the shooting circle, and with some great feeds and vision allowed their team to score quickly through the tall young-gun Grace Parker.
Lewis managed to keep Lions goal shooter Madison Schultz to just three goals for the quarter, but it didn’t take long for the Lions to start stepping up, defenders Sunday Aryang and Alice Coakley doing everything they could to stop that easy play into the goal circle. The Lions attack also began firing late in the quarter but struggled overall to convert the ball they managed to win back. Some great defensive work from Lions wing defence Keely Fitzpatrick kept her side in the game at crucial times, but it was the Sharks that won the quarter, up 12-10.
The second quarter once again saw a late run from the Lions, but it was still the Sharks maintaining ball throughout the opening minutes. Easy play down court for the Coastal side, as well as some basic errors in ball handling from the Lions made the Sharks look promising, Emily Smith doing good work in the wing defence position. The game started to step up to a new level, the physicality of the game picking up with the defensive duo of Penny and Lewis doing wonders for their side.
“We work like best friends out there,” said Penny, “We each have each other’s backs, and it’s all a team effort. From the wing defence to the centre all the way to the goal shooter, we’re all working hard.”
Lions captain Tess Cransberg started to lift, doing a mountain of work for her side out in goal attack, and with some good drives from her shooting partner Schultz, the Lions started to claw their way back. They managed to score quickly and accurately, shooting at 11/15 for the quarter. The early six goal deficit began to shrink and rested at just one goal at half time.
The game remained consistent in the third quarter despite the changes made to the Sharks line-up going into the second half of the match. Smith, moving from wing defence to centre, continued to impress and the side managed two quick goals in the opening seconds. It wasn’t long before the Lions answered however, the score coming back to even with some great defensive pressure being applied from both sides. The play definitely seemed more even in this period of play, each Lions player stepping up from Aryang and Coakley, through star centre Lindal Rohde, right down to Crasnberg and Shultz. The Lions hit the front mid-way through the third quarter for the first time in the game, and with some scrappy desperate play paying off for both sides, the score rested at 37-35 going into the last term.
In the final term, the Sharks managed a quick strong start and continued pushing out their lead once again. Emma Cosh, goal attack for the Coastals side had a great quarter, her movement around the court consistent all game. Lions continued to win back ball through Aryang, but conversion was what hurt the Lions in the final fifteen minutes. Cransberg worked hard to win her team a few opportunities, taking intercepts in and around the centre third and keeping the margin around three goals, but in the end, it just wasn’t enough. The Sharks took the match by three goals, 50-47.
The premiership is the Sharks first since 2011.
Lions: 47/59, 80%
- Schultz: 28/34, 82%
- Cransberg: 19/25, 76%
Sharks: 50/64, 78%
- Parker: 32/38, 84%
- Cosh: 18/26, 69%