Local derby opponents cautious about duel
RIVAL netball captains Emilie McInally and Robyn Walsh share a passion for the game that highlights why they are fine team leaders.
Ipswich Flyers ace McInally and Goodna Sapphires spearhead Walsh are among the first to promote their sport and set a positive example for their respective sides.
That experience shines through when the Flyers and Sapphires meet in the Queensland Premier League South East Queensland Cup competition.
After both regional teams comfortably won their opening two matches of the new season, it would be easy to talk up their respective title hopes or who looks stronger for the latest local derby.
That is especially the case for SEQ Cup champions Goodna, who beat the Flyers twice last season.
However, both senior players were wisely cautious in their approach to Thursday's 7.50pm battle at the State Netball Centre.
"It's just another game,'' Walsh said, watching her team after recovering from recent knee surgery.
"There is always a certain hype that surrounds the game, so we just try to stay focused on our game plan and not get caught up with it.''
McInally offered similar sentiments, encouraged by having some new faces in her side this season.
"We don't really want to dwell too much on last year's games as we are a different team, much like them,'' McInally said.
"We're just going to take it as it comes and focus on our own performance. I think we're evenly matched so it will be a close one.''
Although the Sapphires were superior last season, Walsh said the lesson from past local derbies was to make sure her team plays a full 60 minutes.
Both experienced players were unphased having the local derby so early in the season.
"We are happy to have it any time,'' McInally said. "We approach it just like every other game.''
The Flyers complete preparations for Thursday's round 3 tussle having beaten QCNA 64-30 last Thursday night.
The Sapphires were also dominant in overcoming Downey Park 51-31.
McInally was happy how her team built into the match.
"Even after a slower start compared to last week, it didn't rattle the team and we remained composed,'' she said.
"During the second quarter, we started to really pull away.
"To their credit they didn't give up and fought right to the end.
"Our defence did a great job. Any shots they missed we got the rebound and converted most turnovers.''
McInally praised Melissa Beutel and Rachael Sarra for their defensive combination.
"The both have been sick with colds so they battled it out last Thursday,'' she said.
At the shooting end of the court, Selena Hirsch, Kirsty Brennan, Macy McColm and Masilina Kurukitoga rotated well.
"It was definitely a pleasing start but we still have things to work on,'' McInally said.
"We're not at our peak yet.''
Expecting to return in a month, Walsh praised goal defence Nicole Theron for a standout performance against Downey Park.
"We're definitely happy with the start. It builds confidence within the team,'' Walsh said.
Renee Kalao led the Sapphires again while Walsh continues her rehabilitation.
"It was a comfortable win. We led from the start and then just built on our lead,'' Walsh said.
Walsh said the Sapphires expected Rebecca Asquith to return tomorrow night after a niggling knee injury.
However, Beth Thornton is out with a rolled ankle.
As for her progress, Walsh was keeping positive.
"It's really good,'' she said. "I had a follow-up appointment with the surgeon and I am on track so hopefully look at being back on court for the Sapphires in four weeks.''
McInally said the Flyers were faring well despite the winter colds.
However, Meg Callahan is still out with a knee injury.
She was injured before the first game so she is yet to suit up for the Flyers.
QPL SE Qld Cup Rd 3: Thursday (7.50pm) - Goodna Sapphires v Ipswich Flyers at the State Netball Centre.
Rd 2 results: Goodna def Downey Park 51-31, Ipswich def QCNA 64-30.