Replay: Qld Netball Sapphire Series - Cougars vs QUT
ABOVE: Watch a replay of QUT vs Brisbane North Cougars in the video player above or scroll down for the match report.
LATEST: Reigning premiers Brisbane North Cougars proved too good for Sapphire Series debutant team QUT in their round one clash at Morayfield Sports and Events Centre.
The game which featured five Firebird training partners, between the two teams had promised to be a close one and it was, until Cougars surged ahead in the third quarter to win the clash 64-57.
Hard working centre court players and accurate shooting put QUT in front early in the first quarter.
QUT's Hulita Veve and Kesha Grant combined well in the centre court but Cougars were able to snatch back some goals in the final five minutes of the quarter bringing the scores level at 16-16 at first break.
Cougars came out strong in the second quarter getting back a three-point lead within five minutes.
QUT managed to claw back some points with some fast-paced centre-court plays.
With five minutes to go until the halftime break QUT were down two points.
QUT called a time-out which proved to give them some new drive once again - levelling the score within two minutes.
But Cougars' shooting prowess left them ahead 31-29 at the halftime break.
Sharp shooting from Cougars' Martina Reekers and Mia Stower helped keep the Brisbane North side just out of QUT's reach in the third quarter.
Despite the growing scoreline QUT continued to fight bringing the score back level halfway through the quarter but Cougars once again surged ahead to go into the final break ahead 49 - 41.
QUT made some changes in the final quarter bringing on 15-year-old Dakota Newson into wing attack, moving Grant to centre and Veve to wing defence but it didn't put a dent in the Cougars' early goal scoring efforts.
With five minutes left on the clock reigning premiers Cougars had mounted an 11 point lead.
QUT staged a comeback clawing the score difference back, but it was too little too late.
Cougars finished ahead 64-57.
Brisbane North's coach Liz White said she was happy with the win but the side still had "plenty to work on".
With five new players in this year's team White said the players were still learning to work together - particularly in defence.
QUT coach Paula Stuart said it was a great first outing for girls who had not been playing together for long.
Stuart a vital five minutes in the third quarter, where Cougars amassed a strong lead, was what lost them the game.
"I'm pretty happy with how they played. I think Cougars and QUT set the benchmark for a fast play. The game was hard and fast," Stuart said.
Cougars will take on Tigers in Round 2 and QUT will play Bullsharks.
Cougars vs QUT - Qld Netball Sapphire Series
PREVIEW: Competition newbies QUT Netball will face off against the reigning premiers in today's Sapphire Series round one clash but after a strong recruitment drive they won't be easy to beat.
The game, which starts at 5pm today at Morayfield Sports and Entertainment Centre will be livestreamed right here at The Courier-Mail.
With both teams boasting plenty of talent and five Firebirds training partners due to take the court, the game is shaping up to be a blockbuster.
Brisbane North Cougars were crowned champions in 2020 after defeating season-long rivals Ipswich Jets 62-47.
Firebirds training partners Macy Gardner, Mia Stower and Ruby Bakewell-Doran will all line up for the Cougars tonight.
Both Gardner and Stower played a number of games for the Firebirds during the 2020 Suncorp Super Netball season and Bakewell-Doran was named the MVP in the 2020 Sapphire Series grand final.
Cougars coach Liz White said she was excited for the first game of the season with the new look side.
The Cougars shooting end has remained unchanged while their centre court is mostly new.
"We have had five changes to last year which is exciting, it brings a whole new dynamic to the team. It seems quite positive and cohesive," White said.
While many of the players are young White said they all had plenty of experience in high-level leagues and competitions.
White said she was not expecting an easy game against competition newcomers QUT.
"I know they are a new team but we know a lot about them," she said.
"They are (almost) the team that beat us in the grand final in 2019 so we know what we are up against."
While new to the competition QUT's side is far from lacking experience.
Former Carina Tigers player Reilley Batcheldor has switched to QUT along with fellow Firebirds training partner Hulita Veve.
Aleesha Adams-TeHarra will return to the court after a year off.
2020 Queensland Fusion ANL Team member Danielle Taylor and Australian under-19s squad member Lily Gribble will also take to the court for QUT.
QUT coach Paula Stuart has also dedicated 21 years to coaching at this level.
She said it is fantastic to have eight teams back in the competition.
"The team has some experienced players but also some very young ones," Stuart said.
This includes 15-year-old Gold Coast wing attack/centre Dakota Newson who is yet to play in the Sapphires competition.
Newson will be playing alongside her idol Keshia Grant.
"Keshia is Dakota's hero," Stuart said.
"They are both from New Zealand and she grew up watching Keshia play. Her first call was to her grandad who she used to watch Keshia play on the TV with her."
"It will not be an easy first game for a new team but we are up for the challenge," Stuart said.
Originally published as LIVE STREAM: Cougars V QUT Sapphires Netball Series