Souths defender Tianna Cummings played a starring role late as the Lions booked a shot at Newcastle open netball championship grand final redemption with a 50-38 win over Forsythes.
Forsythes fought back from a poor first quarter and 15-9 deficit on Saturday at National Park to stay within reach of Souths in the preliminary final until the closing minutes.
The second-placed Lions will now take on minor premiers and defending champions West Leagues Balance in the decider for a second consecutive year.
The Lions led 26-21 half-time on Saturday and maintained the advantage at three-quarter time. Forsythes got within three goals with five minutes left but Souths stormed home.
Lions coach Trude Yen was pleased with the clinical performance.
“They heavily put on their defence in the second quarter, which caught us by surprise, because basically an entirely different team came out,” Yen said. “We lost that second quarter but came back and decided to do something about it. The last quarter was our best. I put on some fresh legs and we ran away with it by seven.
“We were very confident of the win. We never take Forsythes lightly. You never know what [coach] Traci [Baber] is going to bring out on court and they have very talented players, and yesterday’s game showed that. They belonged in that final. It’s always a great game against them.”
Yen said Cummings played a key role late at wing defence to ensure Souths kicked clear.
“Sabina [Gomboso] is always the one to beat against them and I just wanted some fresh legs in the goal defence area,” Yen said of the Forsythes shooter.
“Tianna plays the most beautiful wing defence and she was getting tips and turnovers everywhere in that last quarter.”
Baber said her side did well to get back in the game after “a terrible first quarter”, and praised them for their overall campaign.
“The girls are still really happy with our season and I’m happy with how we went considering everything that went wrong, with injuries and whatever,” she said.