Warriors back to back champions

By Dustin Edwards

The West Coast Warriors have avenged their semi-final loss to the Coastal Sharks to secure back to back premierships by four goals in front of a thunderous crowd at the State Netball Centre.

Warriors Head Coach Karly Guadagnin was mainly relieved after her side nearly blew an eight-goal lead going into the last quarter.

“It’s just relief,” she said.

“Just relief for the group and the club, it didn’t go our way with all three teams today but we had a job to get done and we did today.”

Both teams appeared nervous early, with the ball flying at a frenetic pace from end to end, but it was the Sharks who settled the quickest gaining a 6 – 3 lead early into the first quarter, off the back of some strong defensive play from Captain Jess Penny in Goal Defence.

The margin managed to creep out to four goals with less than five minutes to go, before the Warriors clicked into gear through some brilliant defensive play from Goal Defence Andrea Gilmore and Centre Helen Taylor to get the game even at quarter time with 11 goals each.

After a slow start to the second quarter, the Warriors exploded to an 11-goal lead through the brilliant defensive work of Gilmore and Goal Keeper Brooke Walker.

Coupled with the sharp ball movement of Taylor and Cosh, the Warriors were unstoppable scoring 16 – 5 for the quarter to give them a more than handy 27-16 lead at the main break.

The Warriors continued their dominance in the third quarter with slick ball movement from the back half with Gilmore and Taylor setting up numerous attacking plays to keep the Sharks at bay.

Wing Attack Emma Cosh was her usual effervescent self in attack for the Warriors, however, the Sharks continued to fight and had somewhat of a purple patch in the last five minutes of the quarter to bring the margin down to eight goals through hard work of Penny and Centre Courtney Kruta.

The final stanza started much the same as the first, as both teams appeared too nervous to make a mistake which lead to a number of turnovers in the middle third.

The Sharks sensed there was an opportunity in front of them and grabbed it with both hands as they defended as though their lives depended on it, cut through the out of place Warriors defence, and made the most of every opportunity.

Sharks shooter Grace Parker overcame a shaky start to be the x-factor for her side, as the scores drew level at 43 a piece with just three minutes to go.

With the game on the line, Cosh put her body on the line with a desperate and courageous intercept running back with the flight of the ball into the unknown, and threw an electrifiying pass from the centre-third to set up Goal Shooter Lisa Millman to put the Warriors back in front.

From there, Cosh continued to run her opponent off her feet to create attacking options for her the Warriors and capped off an impressive performance by icing the game in the last minute with a sensational long range bomb, giving the Warriors a four-goal win and back to back premierships with a 47-43 win.

The Sharks can be proud of how they fought back when it looked like the margin could blow out further but, ultimately, they didn’t make the most of their opportunities when they had the momentum.

Guadagnin credited Cosh’s courageous intercept as the tipping point that got her team over the line in the final minutes of the tough affair.

“Those one-percenters, we pride ourselves on those and they’re the real big things that win you games,” she said.

“We spoke about winning moments, and for an attacker to play defence and get an intercept, I was out of my seat it was outstanding.”

West Coast Warriors 47
Coastal Sharks 43

West Coast Warriors
Lisa Millman 31/38 (82%)
Denise Shepley 15/24 (63%)
Emma Cosh 1/2 (50%)

Coastal Sharks
Grace Parker 25/31 (81%)
Sophie Garbin 17/23 (74%)
Ellie Smart 1/5 (20%)