The Canberra Giants have set up a potential fairy tale finish to their Australian Netball League (ANL) season, stunning minor premiers Victorian Fury in an 11-goal semi-final victory.
The Giants will play the Tasmanian Magpies in the gold medal match in front of a home crowd at Canberra’s AIS Arena. The match will be played as a curtain-raiser to the Suncorp Super Netball fixture between Giants Netball and the Adelaide Thunderbirds.
The senior Giants team joined a capacity crowd at the ACT Netball Centre to support their feeder team. The Giants pushed out to a four-goal lead early in the first quarter, but it was reeled in to two by quarter-time.
Victorian goal keeper Rudi Ellis had the better of Georgia Marshall in the first quarter, but Beryl Friday kept the scoreboard ticking over for the Giants with her trademark easy style.
The Fury showed their class to take control during the second quarter, turning the deficit into a small lead at half-time. Physical defence from the Victorians sent Giants bodies flying and midcourters Lara Dunkley and Molly Jovic began to find prolific shooter Rahni Samason.
Again the momentum swung during the third quarter, the Giants wrestling back a three-goal lead at the final break through a renewed defensive effort.
Amy Parmenter was inspirational throughout the match, taking at least five intercepts. Parmenter’s midcourt pressure helped Stephanie MacGougan and Teigan O’Shannassy shut down Victoria’s goal attack options and quelled Samason’s influence.
Friday was huge in the last quarter, scoring 10 from 10 under enormous pressure. A series of three-goal runs to the Giants opened up a seven-goal lead. Two offensive contacts against Fury broke their spirit and the Giants pressed further, buoyed by the home crowd.
The Giants will face the Tasmanian Magpies in the gold medal match, while the Fury will battle for the bronze medal against the NSW Waratahs.
Canberra Giants 66 def Victorian Fury 55
(12-11, 24-26, 40-37, 58-47)
Georgia Marshall 27/36 75%
Beryl Friday 31/33 94%
Rahni Samason 37/40 93%
Mikaela Vaughan 4/6 67%
Sasha McDonald 6/6 100%
GS Georgia Marshall
GA Beryl Friday
WA Taylah Davies
C Maddie Hay
WD Amy Parmenter
GD Stephanie McGougan
GK Teigan O’Shannassy
GS Rahni Samason
GA Mikaela Vaughan
WA Molly Jovic
C Lara Dunkley
WD Casey Adamson
GD Allie Smith
GK Rudi Ellis
What they said
Maria Lynch, Canberra Giants co-coach
“We’re on top of the world at the moment! We’ve been working really hard for this and we knew that the Fury were the team to beat. Being the minor premiers, they had a lot to prove this year and we just really stuck to our game plan today. I think our full court defence was amazing and when things go right for you, they go right, but you have to work to make them go right.”
On taking out the final margin 11 goals
“After that second quarter I was like, ‘argh’! Things weren’t going exactly our way, but we re-grouped and we stuck to what we wanted to do, really simple basic stuff. Get the game open, let our speed do the work for us and I think we did that, we brought it home really well.”
Was the great defensive effort the key to the win?
“Their shooter Rahni Samason, she’s just a goal scoring machine, she’s amazing. We really targeted trying to keep the ball away from her and making her do a bit more work to get the ball. I thought our defence has really stood up with all the changes that happened in the goal circle and the little switches of their players. They stuck to what they had to do and that was testimony to the work that they’ve put in this last couple of weeks.”
The belief in the team to come from fourth place to potentially win the competition
“It’s open to anybody and this competition is just so close like, you never know what you’re going to get week to week. It’s always a surprise package, but you have to just keep building on what you’ve got within your team and that’s what we’ve done all season.”
The opportunity to play a home grand final
“We’re really looking forward to getting out on the AIS arena and going for that gold medal. We’ve done the work and now we can go back and just recover well for tomorrow because we know it’s going to be a different story again. The Magpies have got some great players out there individually but they’ve got some pretty slick teamwork as well.”
Report: Lou Patton
Photos: Ben Southall