Sapphires shining brightly in top spot
GOODNA Sapphires goal attack Renae Kalalo had confidence in her team's ability to challenge for top spot in this year's expanded Queensland Premier League South East Queensland Cup competition.
Having played for more than a decade on and off with a number of her teammates, she knew the Sapphires could shine this season with such a strong bond.
The former Australian and state representative netballer is thrilled to see the Sapphires remain the only unbeaten team with one round to go.
"It's very exciting,'' she said of the prospect of being competition champions.
"We've all had the experience and a lot of us play together.
"At least five of us have been the core for over the last five years.''
The Sapphires have to beat fifth-placed Pine Rivers in Thursday's 8pm match to guarantee top spot.
"We know it's important. We've got one to go,'' Kalalo said, having played in every game this season.
"We're not going to take Pine lightly. We've had some good close games.''
But after winning last week's top of the table clash 57-40 over Caboolture, the Sapphires only need to keep playing as they have been.
They have scored 542 goals, only conceding 350, to be ahead of Caboolture on percentages.
"We are a pretty solid side. We all get along well,'' she said.
"We knew that (Caboolture) was going to be our tough one.
"We play a lot of these girls indoor . . . so we knew what to expect going into the game.''
The Sapphires built an early lead and were ahead by nine points at halftime before completing the job against Caboolture.
"It was very rewarding,'' she said of the win.
"It started tough but then we just worked hard.''
Kalalo and regular indoor teammate Crissy Peever have been leading the Sapphires attack this season, well supported by centres Sarah Cullen-Reid and Angela Ray.
Cullen-Reid is unavailable on Thursday night, having Queensland indoor netball commitments at the nationals in Melbourne.
Kalalo has been a state and national representative over the past 15 years. She also previously played for Caloundra Lynx in their representative competition.
Her most recent rep honour was part of the Queensland seven-a-side team that won last year's nationals in Mackay.
She's delighted to be in this year's Goodna Netball Association-backed team.
"We're loving it,'' she said.
"It's been a great year.''
The Ipswich Flyers also have plenty to play for on Thursday night hoping to secure a top four spot for the inaugural SE Qld Cup finals.
The Flyers held onto fourth spot after beating Pine Rivers 63-49 last week.
The Flyers' next game at the State Netball Centre is at 6.30pm.
The semi-finals start August 10.
Flyers captain Emilie McInally said her team was keen to make the playoffs again, having been regular grand finalists over the last decade.
"We played a really good game against Pine Rivers the week before so we need to keep that momentum going,'' she said.
"Everyone is ready to play.
"We still need to play hard this Thursday to beat Queensland Catholic. That will secure our spot in fourth to move to the semis.''
McInally said the most positive part of the Flyers season this year was having new junior players gain valuable experience.
"Like the other team members in the Flyers, both Ella (Taylor) and Darcie (Smith) are grassroots netballers from Ipswich,'' she said.
"They have played junior rep in Ipswich and play club every Saturday at the Ipswich Netball Association. Both have a great future with the Flyers.''
State of play
QPL South East Queensland Cup Rd 10: Goodna Sapphires def Caboolture 57-40, Ipswich Flyers def Pine Rivers 63-49.
Next games: Rd 11 Thursday - 6.30pm: Ipswich Flyers v Queensland Catholic. 8pm: Goodna Sapphires v Pine Rivers.
Latest points: 1. Goodna 18, 2. Caboolture 16, 3. Metropolitan Districts 15, 4. Ipswich 11, 5. Pine Rivers 10, 6. Shailer Park 10, 7. Redlands 10, 8. Downey Park 4, 9. Queensland Catholic 2, MacGregor 2, Redcliffe 2.