COMMONWEALTH BANK TROPHY 1997-2007

COMMONWEALTH BANK TROPHY 1997-20072020-11-26T23:21:47+10:00

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  • Ian Harkin
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    PRELIMINARY FINAL – THUNDERBIRDS v PHOENIX

    THUNDERBIRDS WON 60-53
    (16-13, 31-27, 47-40, 60-53)

    THUNDERBIRDS:
    GS . Heinrich
    GA . Medhurst
    WA . L.von Bertouch
    C .. N.von Bertouch
    WD . Mutton
    GD . Pointon
    GK . Reddy

    Changes:
    None.

    Shooting:
    Medhurst 33/36 (92%)
    Heinrich 27/32 (84%)
    TOTAL 60/68 (88%)

    PHOENIX:
    GS . Kydd
    GA . McMahon
    WA . Jacobsen
    C .. Dick
    WD . Chokljat
    GD . Prendergast
    GK . Chatfield

    Changes:
    2nd Q – Hallinan WD (Dick), Chokljat to C.
    3rd Q – Curran GD (Prendergast).

    Shooting:
    Kydd 30/38 (79%)
    McMahon 23/26 (88%)
    TOTAL 53/64 (83%)

    Umpires: Sharon Kelly, Jacqui Jashari

    Ian Harkin
    Moderator
    Post count: 10398

    ELLIS VOWS TO BRING T-BIRDS TO THEIR KNEES
    Jessica Halloran
    Sydney Morning Herald

    She has had teammates in tears. There is no doubting the determination of Liz Ellis. She spoke to Jessica Halloran ahead of tonight’s netball grand final.

    SHE told of how she bribed a man (with small change) to kiss one of her Sydney teammates in a Perth nightclub recently. She told tales of tedious days as a construction lawyer and of how, when another solicitor rambled about the placement of a comma in a contract, she knew she had to quit. Liz Ellis, as always, was the centre of attention and entertained her table with her stories at the national league grand final breakfast yesterday.

    But she didn’t have much to giggle about earlier this year. It is 10 months to the day that the Swifts captain was wheeled into an operating theatre and given a knee reconstruction. But if Sydney win the grand final tonight against the Adelaide Thunderbirds, there will be some redemption for all her pain. “It will go a long way to making up towards the stuff I had to go through to get here,” Ellis said. “If we were to win the grand final it would make me feel that things had turned around.”

    That right knee caused Ellis the saddest period of her career when she missed the Commonwealth Games in March. She had desperately wanted to be part of the Melbourne Games. There were low times when all she wanted was to drink wine and quiz her close friends who had suffered similar injuries, including teammate Alison Broadbent.

    Broadbent, who has endured two knee reconstructions, told her what to expect and the mental hurdles she’d have to overcome. “With Ally, she told more of what I should expect,” Ellis said. “She didn’t need to give me pep talks or anything because I’m capable of doing that for myself.”

    The pair has been alongside each other on the court for 14 years and form the goal defensive combination for the Swifts. When Ellis was crushed by injury last year it was a sad moment, said Broadbent. “Lizzy couldn’t have picked a worst time for her to have an injury,” Broadbent said. “It took a lot of guts for her to sit in the crowd and watch the Commonwealth Games. I don’t know how she did it. My husband and a few friends commented that she looked down and that was probably the lowest time.”

    Broadbent pointed out that Ellis has never been dropped. She was always in the state and Australian teams. Everything was perfect – until the knee. But, as Ellis has said before, it’s just what she needed. “It made me appreciate what I have,” Ellis said.

    This year Ellis has played above her best to lead her team on an unbeaten run to the grand final. “She’s been playing her butt off all year just to show she hasn’t missed out too much,” Broadbent said. “She’s probably playing the best netball she’s played and that’s an honest comment. Every game she wants to make a big game of it because you never know when it’s going to stop. I think she’s been a really tough competitor this year.”

    When the pair met, Ellis was a bolshie young woman. And Broadbent? “Alison would cry at anything,” Ellis said. “She’d cry because she was so nervous before games.” When Broadbent first met Ellis, she thought she was incredibly bossy, and often left the court in tears. “Lizzy likes to take over,” Broadbent said. “In some games I was near tears because she used to yell at me on the court. But now I yell back at her and I think she’s got a little bit of respect for me ever since I started yelling at her. I should have learnt that one earlier.”

    There are no quivering lips these days, and Broadbent marvels at her friend’s skill. Ellis has a startling impact on the team, according to Broadbent. And when she’s not there? “It’s a little bit quieter,” Broadbent said. “She always giving lots of advice before the game and at half-time. She’s always thinking hard and stressing out about what she’s going to say before she takes the court. Everyone looks up to her. She takes that lead. She’s a very team-orientated person. She’s always for the team, she doesn’t care for herself.”

    The defenders have won two Swifts premierships together. Broadbent and Ellis, along with wing defender Mo’onia Gerrard and centre Selina Gilsenan, form the most formidable defensive team in the competition, which they believe will drive them to victory over the Thunderbirds. Broadbent and Ellis, with all those years of playing alongside each other, are a slick unit. “We’ve worked really hard on our communication and we’ve never stopped learning together,” Broadbent said.

    Ellis is proud of what they’ve achieved together. “I’m happy with my form, my team and I don’t get frustrated on court anymore,” Ellis said. “I had a very average 12 months, I missed the Commonwealth Games, we got our butt kicked in the grand final last year and this [another title] would really go a long way to making up for all of that.”

    Ian Harkin
    Moderator
    Post count: 10398

    GRAND FINAL – SWIFTS v THUNDERBIRDS

    SWIFTS WON 65-36
    (13-10, 28-19, 49-27, 65-36)

    SWIFTS:
    GS . Cox
    GA . Pratley
    WA . Green
    C .. Gilsenan
    WD . Gerrard
    GD . Broadbent
    GK . Ellis

    Changes:
    None.

    Shooting:
    Cox 39/43 (91%)
    Pratley 26/26 (100%)
    TOTAL 65/69 (94%)

    THUNDERBIRDS:
    GS . Heinrich
    GA . Medhurst
    WA . L.von Bertouch
    C .. N.von Bertouch
    WD . Mutton
    GD . Pointon
    GK . Reddy

    Changes:
    3rd Q – Fellowes GK (Reddy), Edwards GD (Mutton), Pointon to WD, Medhurst to GS, Heinrich to GA.
    During 3rd Q – Pointon to GD, Edwards to WD.
    4th Q – Reddy GK (Fellowes), Medhurst to GA, Heinrich to GS.

    Shooting:
    Medhurst 20/23 87%, Heinrich 16/22 73%, TOTAL 36/45 80%

    Player of the match: Liz Ellis

    Umpires: Sharon Kelly, Nikki Boyd

    Ian Harkin
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    SWIFTS SOAR INTO HISTORY BOOKS WITH EASY VICTORY
    Jessica Halloran
    The Age

    IT WAS the perfect end to a perfect season as the Sydney Swifts held the premiership trophy to create Australian sporting history. After smashing the Adelaide Thunderbirds 65-36 last night to win the grand final at Olympic Park Sports Centre, the Swifts became the first team to go through an entire national league season undefeated, winning 16 successive games to lift their third title. Not since since rugby league’s St George went through a season unvanquished in 1959 has a club achieved such a feat at national level.

    Swifts shooters Catherine Cox and Susan Pratley had a brilliant night under the net, Pratley scored 26 goals from 26 attempts – Cox 39 from 43. But numbers aside, for Sydney captain Liz Ellis last night’s victory meant redemption. After a horror 12 months, where she had her right knee reconstructed and missed out on the Commonwealth Games team, Ellis finally felt everything had turned around for her.

    With a team plump with Australian team members – including Cox, Pratley, Gerrard, Gilsenan, Ellis – the side was raging favourite all season. Last year, they had a patchy build-up and were humiliated in the grand final by 17 goals by the Melbourne Phoenix. And, so, everything was tense but perfect in the end last night.

    It was a scattered and frenetic start from both teams. But Cox settled early, bagging 11 goals from 11 attempts. Against the crack goal defensive combination of Ellis and Alison Broadbent, Thunderbirds’ Kristin Heinrich managed two goals and Natalie Medhurst eight. The Swifts started with a small lead of three goals (13-10) in the first term. It was well into the second quarter until Cox missed her first goal but Pratley had found her groove and had not missed a shot, shooting seven from seven in the quarter.

    It got physical up the other end of the court when Ellis flew through the air, cleaning up Thunderbirds centre Natalie von Bertouch, who thumped to the court after the collision. While the Thunderbirds were left languishing on the pine, smart work from Selina Gilsenan in the midcourt kept the ball falling into the hands of the Swifts shooters. The Swifts went into the long break up by nine goals (28-19).

    In the third, the Swifts started to demolish the Thunderbirds. Defender Mo’onia Gerrard and attacker Kimberlee Green led the way in the midcourt. The scoreline blew out in this quarter to 39-22. By the close of the third, the Swifts were up by 22 goals.

    Ian Harkin
    Moderator
    Post count: 10398

    Thanks to Sebastian Luckai…

    Ian Harkin
    Moderator
    Post count: 10398

    2007 was the final year of the Commonwealth Bank Trophy. Before the season began, it was announced that a new competition would begin in 2008, featuring teams from both Australia and New Zealand.

    The Australian team toured England during the early rounds of the 2007 CBT, meaning some teams (especially Swifts) were badly affected. As a result, Swifts lost two games they would almost certainly have won at full strength. They finished the regular season two wins behind Phoenix, but Phoenix were denied the right to host finals matches as Netball Australia made the decision to hold the entire finals series in Sydney over just one weekend.

    .

    MIXED REACTION TO TRANS-TASMAN COMPETITION
    AAP
    27 Feb, 2007

    SYDNEY – Australia’s netball community has given a mixed and cautious reaction to the prospect of a professional trans-Tasman competition. A new professional league including five teams each from Australia and New Zealand, and bankrolled by pay television, is expected to replace the domestic Commonwealth Bank competition from next year.

    Netball Australia has yet to confirm the new format but is expected to make an announcement in mid-March after a meeting with union officials next week. And while the new league would see elite players – who earn between about $2000 and $5000 a year – finally reaping financial rewards, there has been a mixed reaction from Australia’s netball community.

    Former Australian captain and current Queensland Firebirds coach Vicky Wilson warns it has implications for the depth of talent developed at elite level. “When you’ve got eight teams reduced to five that’s 30 players less being exposed on the international stage,” she said. “What will it mean for those teams and coaches who will miss out? I think they’ll be having a lot of sleepless nights.”

    Reports suggest that the Sydney Swifts, Queensland Firebirds, Adelaide Thunderbirds, Melbourne Phoenix and Perth Orioles are the favoured franchises, leaving out the AIS Canberra Darters, the Melbourne Kestrels and Hunter Jaegars. Kestrels coach Jane Searle said Netball Victoria would push for two Victorian teams in the competition, and if not successful, the best players from the Phoenix and Kelstrels would be selected.

    Meanwhile, Netball New South Wales said it would also fight to secure places for both its teams, the Swifts and Jaegers. “I’m always open to new ideas and ways to improve netball and I think it’s a good idea, but we have to see what the underpinning program is,” Searle said.

    For long-time Australian player and Swifts shooter Catherine Cox, a trans-Tasman league is well overdue. She said she was confident Netball Australia would find an adequate structure for the teams that miss out. “It’s about time, Australia and New Zealand have the best domestic competitions in the world,” Cox said. “The opportunity to play with the best players in the world is a step forward. We have always known that we have had the products, it’s just been about finding the right way to put it in the right direction.”

    Cox also dismissed criticism that the league would widen the existing gulf between the trans-Tasman rivals – New Zealand ranked No 1 and Australia No 2 in the world – and other netball nations.

    Australian Netball Players’ Association spokesman John-Paul Blandthorn said a number of issues would need to be considered, including sponsorship and monetary aspects, before the plan was given the green light. “I think Netball Australia has the right idea but we need to be mindful that the structure put in place is viable,” Blandthorn said.

    Reports suggest the competition and broadcasting deal will be worth A$1.5 million a year to Netball New Zealand and Netball Australia with guaranteed primetime television slots until 2010.

    .

    GAME ENTERS NEW ERA WITH TRANS-TASMAN TROPHY
    AAP
    March 13, 2007

    Australian netball will get an A-League style overhaul next year when a new competition with 10 teams from Australia and New Zealand is launched. Australian captain Liz Ellis said yesterday the new Tasman Trophy Netball League could attract star players from all over the world.

    The new event will run from April to July, with five teams from each country, and will be broadcast on pay television. It will replace Australia’s Commonwealth Bank Trophy and NZ’s National Bank Cup. Netball Australia expects to announce the teams that will make up the competition by mid-May.

    Netball Australia chief executive Kate Palmer said the preferred model was for one team each from NSW, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland and Western Australia.

    Goal keeper Ellis said she didn’t think the trans-Tasman competition would lengthen the gap between those two nations and the rest of the world and welcomed the possibility of players from other countries participating in the tournament. “I don’t think it’s being too fantastical to say that this may become the NBA of netball, in that this league is the league that players across the world aspire to play in,” Ellis said.

    Officials from Netball NSW and Netball Victoria welcomed the new competition, while expressing disappointment they would each have only one representative side. Both bodies felt their large pool of players merited a second team.

    Palmer said the remuneration for players would be “much higher” than it is now and that full-time professionalism for the sport could be achieved within three years. Ellis, 34, said the competition could prompt her to prolong her career rather than retire if Australia wins the world title in NZ this year.

    Netball Victoria president Jenny Sanchez said while Melbourne Victory had enjoyed great success in the soccer A-League as a new entity, she had an open mind about whether Victoria would enter one of two existing teams or a new franchise.

    Ian Harkin
    Moderator
    Post count: 10398

    2007 COMMONWEALTH BANK TROPHY

    DARTERS
    Helen Barclay
    Sarah Ebbott
    Laura Geitz (captain)
    Josephine Janz
    Jasmine Keene
    Melanie Kitchin
    Reegan Knowles
    Janelle Lawson
    Sharni Layton
    Samantha May
    Rachel Millwood
    Shannon Priestly
    Laura Scherian
    Leah Shoard
    Kasey Stanaway

    FIREBIRDS
    Candice Adams
    Alissa Castrisos
    Karen Clarke
    Belinda Dever
    Carla Dziwoki
    Melanie Groves
    Michelle Hess
    Amanda Lucas
    Clare McMeniman
    Joanne Morgan
    Simone Nalatu
    Lara Nilsson
    Lauren Nourse
    Jenny O’Connor
    Maleta Roberts
    Meegan Rooney
    Peta Stephens (captain)
    Keirra Trompf
    Katie Walker

    JAEGERS
    Vanessa Andrews
    Karyn Bailey
    Kirby Bentley
    Kimberly Borger
    Narelle Eather
    Edwina Gosse
    Maryanne Hamilton
    Alexandra Harding
    Emma Koster
    Tiffany Lincoln
    Jessica Mansell
    Jane Menzies (captain)
    Lauren Russell
    Courtney Tairi
    Lara Welham

    KESTRELS
    Shae Bolton
    Andrea Booth
    Madison Browne
    Rebecca Bulley (co-captain)
    Melinda Cranston
    Bianca Franklin
    Ashlee Howard
    Rachael Knight
    Tamara Luke
    Elissa McLeod
    Chelsey Nash (co-captain)
    Julie Prendergast
    Amy Steel
    Brooke Thompson
    Caitlin Thwaites
    Leah van Rensburg

    ORIOLES
    Caitlin Bassett
    Emma Beckett
    Kate Beveridge
    Kodie Blay
    Susan Fuhrmann
    Andrea Gilmore
    Melissa Johnston
    Kym Mitchell
    Kyra Neal
    Tasha Nykyforak
    Tracey Pemberton
    Helen Riolo
    Stacey Rosman (captain)
    Rebecca Skinner
    Nikala Smith
    Larrissa Willcox

    PHOENIX
    Sarah Ashmore
    Talei Bari
    Bianca Chatfield (co-captain)
    Natasha Chokljat
    Johannah Curran
    Georgie Davenport
    Ingrid Dick
    Renae Hallinan
    Anne Harrison
    Samantha Holt
    Wendy Jacobsen
    Sharelle McMahon (co-captain)
    Sophie O’Shea
    Melissa Rowland
    Abby Sargent
    Fiona Themann
    Sarah Wall

    SWIFTS
    Erin Bell
    Catherine Cox
    Megan Dehn
    Liz Ellis (captain)
    Mo’onia Gerrard
    Selina Gilsenan
    Kimberlee Green
    Adelaide Johnson
    Jackie Murphy
    Kelly Pepper
    Chelsea Pitman
    Susan Pratley
    Kimberley Purcell
    Joanne Sutton
    Julia Symons
    Vanessa Ware
    Amy Wild

    THUNDERBIRDS
    Emily Beaton
    Georgia Beaton
    Mandy Edwards
    Jane Fitzgerald
    Kristen Hughes
    Amanda Martin
    Natalie Medhurst
    Kirby Mutton
    Fiona Pointon
    Bianca Reddy
    Peta Scholz
    Beth Shimmin
    Laura von Bertouch (captain)
    Natalie von Bertouch
    Leigh Waddington
    Carrie Worthey

    Ian Harkin
    Moderator
    Post count: 10398

    Round 1
    Kestrels 41 v Phoenix 46
    Firebirds 50 v Darters 40
    Swifts 54 v Thunderbirds 47
    Jaegers 56 v Orioles 51

    Round 2
    Orioles 45 v Phoenix 60
    Darters 40 v Swifts 47
    Thunderbirds 59 v Jaegers 42
    Firebirds 58 v Kestrels 43

    Round 3
    Orioles 49 v Darters 58
    Thunderbirds 65 v Firebirds 46
    Jaegers 42 v Phoenix 48
    Kestrels 58 v Swifts 44

    Round 4
    Firebirds 51 v Orioles 53
    Jaegers 58 v Swifts 44
    Phoenix 52 v Darters 36
    Kestrels 51 v Thunderbirds 50

    Round 5
    Orioles 40 v Thunderbirds 69
    Swifts 58 v Firebirds 57
    Jaegers 55 v Darters 47
    Kestrels 53 v Jaegers 48
    Phoenix 68 v Swifts 39

    Round 6
    Thunderbirds 48 v Phoenix 62
    Darters 43 v Kestrels 64
    Swifts 57 v Orioles 37
    Firebirds 54 v Jaegers 45

    Round 7
    Thunderbirds 81 v Darters 42
    Orioles 53 v Jaegers 49
    Swifts 55 v Kestrels 50
    Phoenix 67 v Firebirds 50

    Round 8
    Kestrels 50 v Orioles 48
    Thunderbirds 46 v Swifts 48
    Darters 48 v Firebirds 55
    Phoenix 67 v Jaegers 39

    Round 9
    Jaegers 54 v Kestrels 63
    Darters 49 v Orioles 54
    Firebirds 57 v Thunderbirds 56
    Swifts 56 v Phoenix 47
    Phoenix 60 v Orioles 50
    Kestrels 50 v Darters 49

    Round 10
    Orioles 49 v Firebirds 50
    Swifts 63 v Darters 49
    Phoenix 56 v Kestrels 46
    Jaegers 42 v Thunderbirds 58

    Round 11
    Thunderbirds 58 v Orioles 43
    Darters 49 v Jaegers 54
    Firebirds 34 v Swifts 62
    Kestrels 54 v Firebirds 61
    Phoenix 54 v Thunderbirds 46

    Round 12
    Orioles 37 v Swifts 61
    Darters 39 v Phoenix 49
    Thunderbirds 60 v Kestrels 49
    Jaegers 49 v Firebirds 52

    Round 13
    Orioles 45 v Kestrels 54
    Darters 39 v Thunderbirds 61
    Firebirds 44 v Phoenix 65
    Swifts 75 v Jaegers 51

    .

    LADDER

    TEAM . . . . . P . . W . . L . . D . . . F . . . A . . . .+/- . . . . % . . . . Pts
    PHOENIX .. 14 . .13 . . 1 . . 0 . . 801 . . 621 . .+189 . . 128.99 . . 26
    SWIFTS .. .. 14 . .11 . . 3 . . 0 . . 763 . . 679 . . .+84 . . 112.37 . . 22
    T’BIRDS .. .. 14 . .. 8 . . 6 . . 0 . . 804 . . 669 . .+135 . . 120.18 . . 16
    KESTRELS . 14 . .. 8 . . 6 . . 0 . . 726 . . 717 . . . .+9 . . 101.26 . . 16

    FIREBIRDS. 14 . .. 8 . . 6 . . 0 . . 719 . . 754 . . . -35 . . . 95.36 . . 16
    JAEGERS … 14 . .. 4 . 10 . . 0 . . 684 . . 773 . . . -89 . . . 88.49 . . . 8
    ORIOLES … 14 . .. 3 . 11 . . 0 . . 654 . . 782 . . -128 . . . 83.63 . . . 6
    DARTERS .. 14 . .. 1 . 13 . . 0 . . 628 . . 784 . . -156 . . . 80.10 . . . 2

    Ian Harkin
    Moderator
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    SEMI FINAL 1 – PHOENIX v KESTRELS
    Acer Arena, Sydney

    PHOENIX WON 68-42
    (14-14, 30-26, 48-33, 68-42)

    PHOENIX:
    GS . Sargent
    GA . McMahon
    WA . Jacobsen
    C .. Chokljat
    WD . Hallinan
    GD . Curran
    GK . Chatfield

    Changes:
    3rd Q – Dick C (Hallinan), Chokljat to WD.
    4th Q – Wall WA (Jacobsen).
    During 4th Q – Ashmore GA (Sargent), Jacobsen WA (Wall), McMahon to GS.

    Shooting:
    McMahon 39/43 (91%)
    Sargent 22/29 (76%)
    Ashmore 7/9 (78%)
    TOTAL 68/81 (84%)

    KESTRELS:
    GS . Thwaites
    GA . Booth
    WA . Browne
    C .. Nash
    WD . Bulley
    GD . Thompson
    GK . Prendergast

    Changes:
    3rd Q – Howard GA (Booth), Browne to C, Nash to WA.
    During 3rd Q – Bolton C (Nash), McLeod WA (Browne), Bulley to GD, Thompson to WD.
    4th Q – Nash WA (Bolton), Cranston GK ( Bulley), McLeod to C, Prendergast to GD.
    During 4th Q – van Rensburg WD (Thompson).

    Shooting:
    Thwaites 28/33 (85%)
    Booth 10/14 (71%)
    Howard 4/6 (67%)
    TOTAL 42/53 (79%)

    Umpires: Paula Ferguson, Kate Wright

    Ian Harkin
    Moderator
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    SEMI FINAL 2 – SWIFTS v THUNDERBIRDS
    Acer Arena, Sydney

    SWIFTS WON 54-43
    (10-12, 22-22, 37-32, 54-43)

    SWIFTS:
    GS . Cox
    GA . Pratley
    WA . Green
    C .. Gilsenan
    WD . Purcell
    GD . Gerrard
    GK . Ellis

    Changes:
    During 4th Q – Murphy GD (Gerrard).

    Shooting:
    Cox 32/37 (86%)
    Pratley 22/23 (96%)
    TOTAL 54/60 (90%)

    THUNDERBIRDS:
    GS . Hughes
    GA . Medhurst
    WA . L.von Bertouch
    C .. N.von Bertouch
    WD . Scholz
    GD . Pointon
    GK . Reddy

    Changes:
    None.

    Shooting:
    Medhurst 28/31 (90%0
    Hughes 15/19 (79%)
    TOTAL 43/50 (86%)

    Umpires: Sharon Kelly, Jacqui Jashari

    Ian Harkin
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    GRAND FINAL – SWIFTS v PHOENIX
    Acer Arena, Sydney

    SWIFTS WON 45-37
    (16-10, 27-19, 34-26, 45-37)

    SWIFTS:
    GS . Cox
    GA . Pratley
    WA . Green
    C .. Gilsenan
    WD . Purcell
    GD . Gerrard
    GK . Ellis

    Changes:
    None.

    Shooting:
    Pratley 23/25 (92%)
    Cox 22/26 (85%)
    TOTAL 45/51 (88%)

    PHOENIX:
    GS . Sargent
    GA . McMahon
    WA . Jacobsen
    C .. Dick
    WD . Chokljat
    GD . Curran
    GK . Chatfield

    Changes:
    2nd Q – Hallinan WD (Jacobsen), Chokljat to WA.

    Shooting:
    McMahon 23/31 (74%)
    Sargent 14/23 (61%)
    TOTAL 37/54 (69%)

    Player of the match: Selina Gilsenan

    Umpires: Sharon Kelly, Jacqui Jashari

    Crowd 8000

    Ian Harkin
    Moderator
    Post count: 10398

    TEARS AS SWIFTS WIN GRAND FINAL
    By Amanda Lulham
    Daily Telegraph

    MORE than a decade after two “uncoordinated gumbies” played their first national netball league game together, close friends and Australian teammates Liz Ellis and Cath Cox left the court after the final Commonwealth Bank Trophy game yesterday in tears.

    Emotions kept in check during their almost clinical grand final victory against Melbourne Phoenix overflowed after the match at Acer Arena in Sydney with Ellis and Cox – two of the survivors from the first CBT 11 years ago – embracing tearfully.

    For both, the realisation that the curtain has come down on a era of netball which has helped mould them into the champions they are today was simply overwhelming. The CBT will morph into a new-look Tasman Trophy in 2008 involving both Australian and New Zealand clubs.

    This week Cox had reminisced over her first game in the now defunct CBT competition as “a clumsy idiot who couldn’t shoot” – far from her position 11 years later as one of the leading sharpshooters in world netball. Ellis had dusted off old files during the week to look at the few newspaper stories chronicling the start of the competition in 1997.

    Coverage was minimal and Ellis was just starting to show signs of the talent which in November will see her lead Australia into battle at the world netball championships in Auckland. “This is the sweetest win of all of them,” said Ellis after she and her TAB Swifts teammates claimed the final CBT title – their second on the trot and fourth in 11 years – with their 45-37 victory over minor premiers Melbourne Phoenix in front of an 8000 strong crowd. “It’s special.”

    Cox, whose career has also stretched across the entire 11-year competition, said she still found it hard to believe “what a crap player I was” at the start. “I saw some footage recently and nearly died,” she said. “I was so bad, an absolutely shocking shooter who averaged about 60 per cent a game … uncoordinated and a real gumby. But this competition moulded us into what we are today so it’s sad this was the last game.”

    Sadder though were Melbourne Phoenix stars Sharelle McMahon and Ingrid Dick, who like Cox and Ellis have also played every season of the league. They had little to celebrate yesterday after a blindingly fast start by the Swifts left them and their Phoenix teammates reeling – and behind – for the most of the match.

    Sure, confident, controlled and slick from the first touch of the ball, the Swifts gave Phoenix ample warning they would have to produce their best ever netball to take the crown from them. And while they tried, it took Phoenix until late in the second quarter to find their feet with the visitors trailing 10-16 at the first break and 19-27 by halftime.

    But a ferocious start to the third quarter put Phoenix back within striking distance, with the Melburnians reducing a 13-goal first-half deficit to just four midway through the period before a late rally saw the Swifts take a 34-26 lead into the break. It was a game-winning lead which saw the Swifts win the crown by eight goals in the lowest-scoring grand final in history and their centre, Selina Gilsenan, named Player of the Match.

    Superb shooting by Australian duo Cox and Susan Pratley was integral to the Swifts win with Cox netting 22 from 26 (85 per cent) and Pratley 23 from 25 (92 per cent). Fellow Australian shooter McMahon netted 23 from 31 goals at 74 per cent with circle partner Abby Sargeant netting 14 from 23 at 61 per cent.

    The new Tasman Trophy will kick off in April between five teams from Australia and five from New Zealand. It is hoped the league, semi-professional in 2008 with top players expected to earn up to $25,000, will in years to come become financially viable enough for netballers to be fully paid professionals – not full-time workers and part-time players. “It’s time for this change,” Cox said. “It’s a step in the right direction for players to become professionals.”

    Ian Harkin
    Moderator
    Post count: 10398

    SWIFTS TAKE FINALS BOW
    WARREN PARTLAND

    THE Sydney Swifts will go into the history books as the last Commonwealth Bank Trophy champions. Sparked into action by a superb performance from player-of-the-match Selina Gilsenan, the Swifts drew the curtain on the national league with a convincing 45-37 triumph over the Melbourne Phoenix in Sydney yesterday. The competition is now no more, having been replaced by the Tasman Trophy next year.

    Swifts coach Julie Fitzgerald, who has been at the helm since the inception of the CBT in 1997, said this premiership meant more to the club than its previous three titles. “To have lost this would have been devastating,” she said. “This is the last one and it is very precious to have. This was our last opportunity to go back-to-back. It has been such a hard year. And knowing it was the last one; there was so much to achieve. This is very special.”

    Fitzgerald was disappointed with her side’s nervous start against the Adelaide Thunderbirds on Friday night and the Swifts made sure there was no repeat yesterday. The Swifts’ delivery into the goal circle was precise and with pace, putting the visitors under enormous pressure. After making a statement on the decider with a 16-10 opening quarter, the Swifts refused to relent as they built on their advantage.

    The Phoenix had no answers to their opponents, especially in the attack end where the Swifts defence was resolute and physical. Some ordinary umpiring decisions as well as turnovers, mostly the result of opposition pressure, also hampered the Phoenix, who fell behind by 13 goals in the second period.

    In a remarkable momentum swing, the Phoenix cut the deficit to just four in the third quarter on the back of eight unanswered goals. That margin should have been even less but goalers Sharelle McMahon and Abby Sargent combined for four successive missed attempts.

    The Swifts were not going to let such a gift from the five-times champion slip and they nailed the opening three goals of the final period to again charge clear. “The intensity from both teams in the third quarter was enormous,” Fitzgerald said. “The speed and change of direction was what was getting us over the line and it deserted us a little for that period of time.”

    Ian Harkin
    Moderator
    Post count: 10398

    SWIFTS DEATH HURTS
    Katie Peart
    Herald Sun

    MELBOURNE Phoenix was denied the fairytale ending – bookend premierships – by a switched-on Sydney Swifts on their home turf yesterday. The loss was a double blow. Compounding their misery, Phoenix players had to come to terms with the death of their club, yesterday’s grand final signalling the end of the Commonwealth Bank Trophy, which will be replaced by the Tasman Trophy.

    For Phoenix coach Julie Hoornweg, the 45-37 defeat – in the lowest scoring grand final ever – and the demise of her club had clearly not hit home yet. Hoornweg referred to having to “go back to the drawing-board” after the match but quickly corrected herself. “We don’t have to, do we?” she said. “We don’t exist any more, that’s it. Gone.”

    Phoenix and Kestrels have now disbanded, replaced by a single Victorian franchise for next year’s 10-team Tasman Trophy. Phoenix, the most successful club in the 11-year history of the Commonwealth Bank Trophy, had won its first title back in 1997 and was intent on farewelling the competition with the final flag.

    For co-captain Sharelle McMahon, a foundation player along with veteran centre Ingrid Dick, yesterday’s loss was a shattering end to an era, particularly because the five-time champion had had its chances against the Swifts. The visitors had three more attempts at goal than the Swifts and trailed by only four goals midway through the third term at Sydney’s Acer Arena.

    “It’s very emotional,” a visibly upset McMahon said. “It’s extremely disappointing, we definitely had more chances throughout the game, which is disappointing but we couldn’t quite make the goals go in when we needed to. I guess reflecting what it means, it’s the end of Phoenix, it’s very sad.”

    Hoornweg said it was an emotionally draining year on several levels for Phoenix and the club had hoped to honour the memory of Burnley tunnel victim Damian McDonald, husband of team manager Bree McDonald, with a win yesterday. “I’m so very proud of them, it’s been an honour to coach these players,” she said.

    The amped-up Swifts jumped Phoenix in the first quarter, outscoring their opponents 16-10. Errors at the top of its goal circle and some sloppy delivery cost Phoenix dearly, with Australian defenders Selina Gilsenan, Mo’onia Gerrard and Liz Ellis quick to pounce.

    Hoornweg reacted quickly to try and inject some system in attack, benching wing attack Wendy Jacobsen, introducing wing defence Renae Hallinan and moving Natasha Chokljat from wing defence to wing attack. But nothing went Phoenix’s way in the second term. Player of the match, Gilsenan, was first to every loose ball and some dubious umpiring calls went against McMahon in a torrid goal circle, dominated by Ellis and Gerrard.

    Swifts goalers Cath Cox and Susan Pratley missed only one goal between them for the first half, propelling the home side to a 27-19 halftime lead.

    Successive intercepts by Hallinan at the start of the third quarter gave Phoenix some hope, and midway through that term it had pulled back the deficit to four goals. But the opportunity went begging as McMahon and goal shooter Abby Sargent missed four shots in a row.

    “I think that probably was our chance,” McMahon said. “When you’re eight goals down at three-quarter time, it’s very hard to get back against a team like Sydney, not impossible, but very difficult and we needed to make the most of that.” Ellis and Gerrard put Sargent (14 goals at 61 per cent) and McMahon (23 goals at 74 per cent) under tremendous pressure with their nagging defence. Unable to convert the opportunities, Phoenix trailed 34-26 at three-quarter time.

    While Ellis described the victory as “the sweetest” of the four premierships she has won, Hoornweg said it was probably her greatest disappointment. “That’s what it’s all about, history can be history, but you have to step up and play and we didn’t step up today. It’s disappointing for the girls, they’re great athletes, they’re great teammates, they’re great people.”

    Ian Harkin
    Moderator
    Post count: 10398

    AWARDS

    CBT MVP

    1997 – Not awarded
    1998 – Liz Ellis
    1999 – Jacqui Delaney
    2000 – Sharelle McMahon
    2001 – Jacqui Delaney
    2002 – Liz Ellis
    2003 – Sharelle McMahon
    2004 – Cynna Neele
    2005 – Sharelle McMahon
    2006 – Liz Ellis
    2007 – Sharelle McMahon

    CBT BEST NEW TALENT

    1997 – Not awarded
    1998 – Natalie Sloane
    1999 – Mo’onia Gerrard
    2000 – Cynna Neele
    2001 – Jane Altschwager
    2002 – Mandy Edwards
    2003 – Carla Dziwoki
    2004 – Julie Prendergast
    2005 – Clare McMeniman
    2006 – Madison Browne
    2007 – Ashlee Howard

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