Netball rivals ponder classic SEQ Cup showdown
NETBALL: While winning Thursday night's South East Queensland Cup game is the major focus, Goodna Sapphires have already considered a likely semi-final showdown with the Ipswich Flyers.
Sapphires captain Robyn Walsh was planning for the scenario if fourth-placed Downey Park win their final regular season game and leapfrog the Flyers, who have a last round bye.
The first and fourth placed sides play off in the opening round of SEQ Cup semi-finals on August 30.
"We have discussed this possibility and are aware that we could be playing the Flyers in the first semi,'' Walsh said.
"We did have a few players away when we initially met earlier in the season so it may be a different game. We will be ready to go regardless of our opponent.''
The Flyers are also preparing for a clash with the defending champions after losing 52-33 to Downey Park in their final game before the finals.
"Based on our for and against we should stay in fourth position so will face off against Goodna,'' Flyers captain Emilie McInally said.
"We're happy to be involved in finals, and coming in as the underdog isn't a bad spot to be in. We'll have nothing to lose.''
However, Walsh said accounting for Western Districts on Thursday night was her unbeaten team's first objective a 52-37 victory over Pine Rivers.
"It was a tough win,'' she said. "We did not play as well as we have been so we were lucky to come away with such a good win.''
With top spot secure, Walsh said the game gave her team a chance to address issues and make changes throughout the game without fear of losing.
"We were able to pull it together and finish strong,'' she said, praising the shooting efforts of Renee Kalao and Chrissy Peever.
Walsh said going through the preliminary season winning all 12 games wasn't a major driving force with the finals so close.
"Sure it would be great to finish unbeaten, but that is not our focus,'' she said.
"The season counts for nothing at finals times. Yes it gives us confidence and it's a nice feeling, but we cannot rest on the fact that we have been unbeaten. If anything, it makes us more of a target.''
The Sapphires have lost Angela Ray (arm fracture) and Nicole Theron with a "a little Sapphire on the way''.
But after having knee surgery at the start of the season, Walsh was satisfied with her progress.
"I'm happy with the way I am playing and no soreness afterwards, so happy going into semis,'' she said.
Away from netball, Walsh likes supporting her husband Stew who will be racing at this weekend's Brisbane Jamboree at Willowbank Raceway.
"We support each other in our chosen sports and allow each other to pursue our passions, but I know as much about drag racing as Stew does about netball,'' Robyn said.
Meanwhile, McInally was disappointed with her team's latest loss to Downey Park.
"We played really well the week before against Caboolture but just couldn't replicate that again,'' McInally said.
"Downey were the better team on the night definitely but also it was one of our worst games as a team performance.
"Across the board we were flat but Kirsty (Brennan) did well to get out on centre passes and assist in midcourt.''
While waiting to see their fate, the Flyers have a training game planned and another training session.
QPL SEQld Cup Rd 13 Thursday (6.30pm): Goodna Sapphires v Western Districts; Ipswich Flyers bye.
Rd 12 results: Goodna Sapphires def Pine Rivers 52-37, Downey Park def Ipswich Flyers 52-33.
Semi-finals start August 30: 1 v 4; 2 v 3.
Current standings: 1. Goodna - 11 wins, 22 points; 2. Caboolture - nine wins, two losses, 18 points; 3. Ipswich - nine wins, three losses, 18 points; 4. Downey Park - nine wins, two losses 18 points; 5. Western Districts - eight wins, three losses, 16 pts.