WANL Grand Final: Sharks reserves claim title

The Coastal Sharks have made it seven in a row after claiming the West Australian Netball League Reserves Premiership for 2018.

The 15-goal win over the West Coast Warriors sees the club continue their domination of the division, and the third loss in a reserves grand final for the Warriors.

“I’ve had three grand final wins as Head Coach with this group, and it’s still a great feeling,” said Sharks coach Naomi Pannell.

“It was a big thing for us, that this is our last year as Sharks and as the unit we are now, so for us to finish off as reigning premiers was really special.”

Captain Rebecca Nitschke shared similar sentiments after the win.

“The Warriors came out hard and strong, but we managed to turn it around.”

“It’s an incredible feeling, and I’m stoked to have been able to finish of the year with the Sharks and with the Premiership,” she said.

The game was fast-paced and intense from the first whistle, both sides playing extremely good netball in the opening quarter. It was the Warriors with the first turnover and goal of the match, with goal shooter Hana Stokes opening well, shooting at 10/12 for the quarter.

With some strong drives downcourt from wing defence Bryanna Bartel, the Warriors looked strong, but the patient work from Sharks attackers Kate Duncan and Kate Pickerill, the score were all tied up.

With opportunities from both sides going amiss, there was a strong need to convert ball and get the goals on the scoreboard. It wasn’t long before the Sharks began taking advantage of the tall option in Molly Warne, who has been a strong influence over the side all season and was named MVP for the game. Despite the quick-scoring Sharks, the Warriors managed to hold on, the score sitting at 14-13 at quarter time.

The opening of the second quarter was more of the same, the margin consistently hovering around one goal. Depsite some impressive defensive pressure from the Warriors, the Sharks started on an impressive run. The feeds into Warne were released with confidence and the goals just kept coming quickly and consistently.

Down the other end of the court, the shooting movement from the Warriors was also strong, having to work the ball around patiently, but it gave the Sharks defenders extra opportunities to turn the ball over. Kellie Baker played well in centre for the Warriors, proving invaluable in both attack and defence, but the margin quickly started stretching out the way of the Sharks. Despite the efforts of young-gun Elizabeth Dronfield, Warne was an easy target for the feeders and the score sat at 33-24 for the quarter, the Sharks out-scoring the Warriors 19-11.

The third quarter was one of constant momentum swings. From the opening minutes both teams were playing well, with Nitschke moving into the centre position for the Sharks and having a great battle with Baker in the middle. The Coastals’ defence really stepped up, Pickerill and McWilliams doing good work causing havoc in the Warriors circle. Despite the efforts, the Sharks often struggled to transition cleanly and the Warriors seemed energized, going for every contest. It was as if there was new life injected into the Warriors side, Baker continuing to impress. Bartel was also strong for her team, putting intense pressure on Duncan and the Sharks attack. Despite their best efforts, the Warriors still trailed by 13 goals, but they scored quickly to narrow it to 10. Some great vision and movement from the Sharks shooters saw them leading going into the last break up 47-35.

The last quarter was owned by the Sharks, but the Warriors never went away, continuing to contest every ball and every pass. Dana Hogan, who came on at halftime for the Sharks did well against Chelsea Broom in wing defence, the energy seeming to drop once again for the Warriors.

The momentum well and truly rested with the Sharks, Warne often being left alone at the post as defenders went hunting outside of the circle, making it all too easy for Nitschke and Duncan. In the end, the Sharks ran away with the game, taking the match by 15 goals, 61-46.

Congratulations to the Coastal Sharks!


Shooting Statistics:

Sharks: 61/76, 80%

  1. Warne: 44/54, 81%
  2. Swetman: 14/18, 78%
  3. Baxter: 3/4, 75%

Warriors: 46/58, 79%

  1. Stokes: 20/26, 77%
  2. Broom: 16/19, 84%
  3. Pepper: 10/13, 77%