The UTS St George Sparks have fallen at the final hurdle, going down to Manly Warringah in the Netball NSW Premier League grand final last Wednesday night.
The Sparks, who finished the regular season as minor premiers, suffered a tight 59-56 loss to Manly at Sydney Olympic Park to end their season.
There was better news for the club’s under-20s side, with the young Sparks downing Panthers 55-49 in a thrilling grand final.
In the opens final, it was the second time in two weeks that the sides had met after the Sapphires posted a thrilling comeback win over UTS St George in the major semi-final to secure their place in the grand final.
Sapphires goal shooter Georgia Marshall was presented with the President’s Medal as the game’s most valuable player.
The teams couldn’t be split throughout the first half, with the sides level at 13-all at the end of the first quarter and 30-all at half-time.
If the third quarter is the ‘championship quarter’, it was UTS St George who looked the most likely to kick on and win the grand final. The Sparks opened up a two-goal advantage heading into the final 15 minutes.
The match continued to see-saw in the final quarter until two crucial interceptions from the Sapphires turned the game.
Manly then retained possession in the final minute before earning a defensive contact call in the dying seconds, allowing Marshall to shoot her 40th goal of the match and secure the three-goal premiership victory.
It was a game that could have gone either way, with UTS St George’s attacking duo of goal shooter Kristina Brice (38 from 45) and goal attack Beryl Friday (18 from 21) shooting at 84 and 86 per cent respectively to keep the Sparks in the match.
In the under-20s final, a big third quarter helped get the Sparks home. UTS St George outscored Panthers 17-11 to edge ahead, eventually holding on to win by six goals.
Two late intercepts from goalkeeper Matilda McDonnell and a third from centre Kaitlyn Fisher were vital for the Sparks to secure victory.
The Netball NSW Premier League enjoyed its first season in 2016, with Sutherland winning the inaugural opens competition.
SAPPHIRES | Q1: 13 – Q2: 30 (17) – Q3: 46 (16) – Q4: 59 (13) SPARKS | Q1: 13 – Q2: 30 (17) – Q3: 48 (18) –Q4: 56 (8)Grand final quarter-by-quarter scoring