After a competition bye round last week, the Hunter United Diamonds have returned to the court firing on all cylinders, ousting seventh placed Camden District by two goals at the Genea Netball Centre.
It was captain Erika Simpson that stood tall in the 57-55 victory, with two quarters in wing defence “effectively shutting down Camden’s attack”, coach Babette Armstrong said.
Simpson began the match as centre, before moving to the defensive role in the second and third quarters, a move that sparked United to recover a four goal deficit and take the lead off the back of a 17-12 second stanza.
The Diamonds continued their run in the third, keeping their leading margin to two goals before they maintained the winning difference with a 15-15 final quarter.
It was a testament to the improvement the squad has seen over the 2018 campaign thus far, Armstrong said, and believes the team’s possession-based style can take them through to the final rounds of the league.
“It’s great to see these girls, who are so willing to learn and take things in, have everything go right for them in the performance,” Armstrong said. “We’ve been working on things like this for a while now, and it’s really starting to translate to on-court rewards and team wins.”
While Simpson guided the team to the victory from the centre of the court, it was shooting combo Claire Kowald and Krystal Dallinger that put the icing on the cake for the Newcastle team.
Dallinger ran the offense, receiving 32 of the team’s centres over four quarters, and recording an 80 per cent shooting margin off 20 chances. That attack was bolstered by Kowald’s clinical finishing, as the team’s shooting star slotted 41 of her 44 opportunities for a 93 per cent haul.
While Armstrong was pleased with how Dallinger and Kowald had combined as the season progressed, she also pointed to Fanogo Maher in the keeper position on Monday evening as a “key” to the defence.
“We had [keeper regular] Annie Neenan out this week, so Maher stepped in and she was fantastic,” the Diamonds’ coach said. “The team sets a lot of goals that we try to reach every game for the defence and Fanogo ticked off every one of them against Camden.”
The Diamonds remain in ninth place after the win, but are now within two points of glut of clubs just outside a finals position – Parramatta, Camden and Eastwood Ryde all sit on 10 points after their 5-8 record in the opening thirteen matches of the year.
With five rounds still to play for United, an undefeated run to the end of the year could still put the thirds squad into as high as third place in the Metro League.
In the Star’s netball news
Later in the week, the Emeralds took on the top-placed club in the first division, Illawarra, pushing them to the limits in a 52-56 defeat.
The firsts squad sit in a similar situation to the Diamonds – the team is currently in eighth place with an eight point haul after ten matches. The close competition leaves United just five points off the top spot however, and with ten points still up for grabs finals are still very much a chance for the Newcastle rep team.
DIV. 1 STANDINGS: Illawarra (13), Hills District, Northern Suburbs, St George (12), Randwick (11), Eastwood Ryde, Baulkham Hills (10), Hunter United, Ku-ring-gai (8)
DIV. 3 STANDINGS: Inner Western Suburbs, Randwick (24), St George (16), Liverpool (14), Manly-Warringah (12), Parramatta, Camden, Eastwood Ryde (10), Hunter United (8), Sutherland (2)