Newcastle Netball: West Leagues Balance 1 confirm top seed for finals and claim 2018 premiership | photos

ON THE BALL: Kimberley Goodearl, one of the lynchpins of Wests' dominant undefeated season, gathers up a rebounded shot against Forsythes. Picture: Isaac McIntyre
ON THE BALL: Kimberley Goodearl, one of the lynchpins of Wests' dominant undefeated season, gathers up a rebounded shot against Forsythes. Picture: Isaac McIntyre

With just two rounds left in the Greater Open Championship, West Leagues Balance 1 have confirmed their first place finish in 2018, after a 72-29 victory over Forsythes saw them move six points clear.

The club’s closest rivals for first place had been Souths Lions, who themselves recorded a 65-28 win against Maryville Tavern, but Tracey Bagg’s avoided any potential slip-ups on the path to the top.

“I don’t think there’s any catching us now, which is nice,” Baggs said.

“What will matter to us now is making sure everyone stays fit and prepares for the finals that will be coming up in a few weeks.

“I’m really proud of how the girls have gone this season, and we always take our best performances out onto the court and want to improve every quarter. We’ve achieved a lot of goals so far this season, which is fantastic.”

Wests will also be looking to take the confidence of an undefeated season into the looming playoffs, but Baggs knows no one in the competition can be “taken lightly” in the final weeks.

“Of course the team would like to go into finals undefeated, but for the most part they’re just playing for each other in the team, and I think that comes first,” she said.

“Every one of the girls out on the court are just having a great time and are backing each other up, and it’s been so important for us this season.”

Sophie Buckley was withdrawn from the match early after a potential ankle injury.

Sophie Buckley was withdrawn from the match early after a potential ankle injury.

Saturday’s 43 goal victory was marred by an injury late on to Premier League centre Sophie Buckley, who was forced from the field after a major contact sent her sprawling on the court.

Baggs confirmed she had taken precautions with her star mid-court leader, who will be undergoing tests throughout the week, but revealed Buckley was walking and said it “looks okay”.

Elsewhere at National Park, Souths Pride fell to BNC Whanau by 20 goals, with the 57-37 victory for BNC moving them into third place.

Trudi Peterson and Nova Thunder will be gunning for a playoff spot in the final two weeks.

Trudi Peterson and Nova Thunder will be gunning for a playoff spot in the final two weeks.

Nova Thunder are still in the race for a finals position however, and their 45-22 win over West Leagues Balance 2 – who have had their playoff hopes snuffed out in recent weeks – keeps them just two points off the top four.

TABLE: Wests 1 (41), Lions (35), BNC (33), Forsythes (31), Nova (29), Maryville (23), Wests 2 (21), Pride (18).

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