West Leagues Balance have secured their third straight premiership

STRONG: West Leagues Balance goal defence Mikenzie McManus, in action during the 2017 finals series. Picture: Jonathan Carroll
STRONG: West Leagues Balance goal defence Mikenzie McManus, in action during the 2017 finals series. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

West Leagues Balance secured a third straight minor premiership in the Newcastle open championship, snatching the silverware from the hands of Forsythes Business Advisors in the final round of competition on Saturday.

Forsythes have been this season's pace-setters. Heading into the penultimate round they were unbeaten after 10 outings and held a four-point buffer over West in second.

But they lost to BNC in round 13 then went down 37-35 to Souths on Saturday as West beat Nova Queens Wharf Thunder 41-18 in tough weather conditions. West and Forsythes ended on 41 points with the former side stealing top spot on goal difference ratio.

It was a satisfying result for West coach Tracey Baggs, who now has her sights set on a third championship.

"We've had a different line-up this year and it has taken us a little while but we've also had girls in and out all year for different years. In saying that, Forsythes only beat us by one and two both times," Baggs said.

"The top four are all competitive and all capable. It's going to be really tough."

The West coach felt her side adapted better in the wet and blustery conditions. They held a 16-8 advantage at half-time and were always in control.

"Defensively we were better," Baggs said. "Mikenzie McManus, our goal defence, was quite outstanding and [goalkeeper] Nat Bridges. Those two played back on [Nova goal shooter] Brooke Fennings and were quite effective. I think we just played smarter in tough conditions and adapted quicker and better."

Souths (37) finished third and Nova (35) fourth and the two sides are headed for a do-or-die showdown in the minor semi-final next weekend.

The Lions trailed at every break but responded after coach Trude Yen "got stuck into them" at quarter-time. Forsythes led 29-24 heading into the final period but Souths opened the quarter with six unanswered goals to set up the two-goal win.

"In the fourth quarter they just wanted it more I believe," Yen said.

"After the first quarter, the way that we ended that quarter was just not the way that we as Lions play. We had our heads down. We looked as if we didn't want to be there, so I really just got stuck into them and said, 'This is not the way Lions play. Get your head back in the game and give it everything you've got. This is where we step up'.

"It took us until the last quarter to really pull at Forsythes strings."

West and Forsythes will have the weekend off before meeting in the major semi-final on August 24.

In other round-14 results, Maryville Tavern beat West 2 58-27 and BNC downed Junction Hotel 49-33.

In round 12 of Super Netball on Saturday, Sam Poolman's Giants lost 60-56 and the Swifts beat the Vixens 57-51. The Thunderbirds beat the Firebirds 71-59 on Sunday and Fever host the Magpies Monday.

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