AUSSIE MILESTONE: Goodna Sapphires captain Robyn Walsh.
AUSSIE MILESTONE: Goodna Sapphires captain Robyn Walsh.

Local derby edge: Goodna leader's 100 match class

HAVING notched 100 caps for Australia, Robyn Walsh is one of the most experienced players in this year's Queensland Premier League SEQ Cup competition.

However, she never takes anything for granted on a netball court despite her series of successes at international and state level.

The Goodna Sapphires captain expects a terrific contest in Thursday night's local derby where the two-time SEQ Cup champions play the Ipswich Flyers at the State Netball Centre.

The Sapphires and Flyers are the only unbeaten sides in Pool A of this year's revamped competition.

"We are expecting the Flyers to come at us hard, fast and physical,'' Walsh said.

"We will be prepared for this, and just look to remain calm, play our game and not get caught up in the moment.

"We are fortunate that we did not meet till the end of round one, so we have had plenty of time to practice combinations and build on the foundations that we have.''

The Sapphires have won all five games this season, scoring 421 goals and only conceding 180.

The Flyers have also been unchallenged in their four matches, having shot 274 goals and given up 151.

The Flyers are coming off a bye where the Sapphires outclassed Cornubia Park 93-29.

"It was a very good outcome,'' Walsh said of that latest effort.

"We did start a bit slower than we had anticipated in the first half (leading 45-12). But we were able to pick up the momentum in the second half and finish with 26 goals scored in the last quarter.

"It shows how mentally tough we are and the discipline we have when we are playing teams that are not pushing us.''

Walsh's century of indoor netball matches for Australia was acknowledged two years ago while playing a tournament in New Zealand.

She pursued her netball career more seriously after playing softball and touch football and enjoying swimming when she was younger.

Having started with Peninsula Netball at Redcliffe in under 7s, she made her first representative team aged 12.

She progressed to the Downey Park Netball Association when in her mid teens, gaining selection in Queensland Schoolgirls sides several times.

Aged 17, she broke into the National Netball League, the equivalent to the current Suncorp Super Netball.

After a break from netball aged 20, she was invited to play indoor netball, which she had never heard of previously.

"I decided to give it a go and really enjoyed it,'' she said.

Walsh made her first Queensland indoor side aged 23, being named a shadow player for Australia the same year in 2000.

Since then, she has represented Queensland, playing in the Open women's side and serving her country.

She was also selected twice to play in the Queensland O/30's mixed side, progressing to the national team.

"My parents have always played sport and installed this into myself and my siblings,'' Walsh said.

"I love being competitive and also I have gained so many amazing friendships and experiences from playing and it has really made me into the person I am today.''

Such qualities will give the Sapphires an edge in Thursday night's contest with the Flyers.

"In previous years when we have come against the Flyers, it has always been a tight game up until halftime,'' Walsh said.

"We have a tendency to pull away in the third quarter and retain the lead. However we will not rely on previous encounters.

"Ideally we aim to come out strong, grab the lead and build throughout the game.''

QPL SEQ Cup round 6: Thursday (7.50pm) - Goodna Sapphires v Ipswich Flyers. 6.30pm: Ipswich Vipers v QCNA at State Netball Centre.

Round 5 results: Goodna Sapphires def Cornubia Park 93-29, MacGregor def Ipswich Vipers 57-39.

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