Redbacks: Rachel Burt, Gemma Pratt, Meena Subramanyam, Victoria Wah, Rob Allen, Neil Hayes, Graham Morris, Laurie Nicol, Sebastiaan Schlee, Mark Zilm
With only one team entered in the B Grade competition this year, the Redbacks descended on Adelaide with high hopes of picking up the trophy. After a great learning experience in the Summer Classic in February and positive signs in training in the lead-up, the team was feeling good. First nationals experiences for the majority of the team along with competitive debuts for both Victoria and Laurie meant the team had a good balance of experience and enthusiasm.
Having their first game at 13:30, Sydney were grateful for the lie in as well as a chance to scout their opponents. With 4 group games over the two days, it was important to get off to a good start against Glenelg.
Sydney 12-14 Glenelg
Scorers: Graham (7), Rachel (3), Gemma, Sebastiaan
A fast start saw both teams trade early goals. Sloppy Redbacks defence caused by losses in concentration gave Glenelg a couple of easy goals, with good attacking from both sides levelling the score at 4-4. Great feeds by Gemma and Victoria with Rob regaining possession under the post allowed Graham to put the Redbacks in front. Glenelg retook the lead at 8-6 however Rachel and Sebastiaan added two more before half time with a text book runner and long shot respectively.
The second half was a lower scoring affair, however Glenelg had the upper hand taking a commanding 3-goal lead immediately after half time. From there on, the Redbacks became more panicked in their play, and an inspired move by Gemma to pull a goal back along with some more great shooting by Rachel were all too rare highlights as Sydney went down to a gut-wrenching 14-12 defeat.
Sydney 16-9 Arista
Scorers: Rachel (5), Graham (4), Rob (2), Neil (2), Victoria, Sebastiaan, Gemma
Eager to improve upon the first match the Redbacks got off to a flyer; Rob slotting in a perfect drop-off before Victoria outwitted her defender to score a running-in shot. The fast start proved crucial as the teams then traded goals up to half time. Rachel nailed a long shot and two runners, ably assisted by Laurie and Meena Graham converted a free pass, Rob doubled his tally with a runner and Neil also got in on the act with a nice move under the post. The whistle went for half time with the Redbacks in the box seat at 9-7.
Sebastiaan was introduced after half time and he played a big part as the Redbacks pulled away, extending their lead to 16-9 by the end. The second half defensive effort was outstanding, almost shutting out Arista but for the two goals conceded. That was against a backdrop of calm, assured attacking that saw the goals flow and 7 different scorers. The win was certainly deserved and gave the team something to play for the following day.
Sydney 7-9 North Adelaide
Scorers: Graham (4), Sebastiaan (3)
Day 2 began sluggishly for Sydney, their play several notches below the level displayed against Arista. North Adelaide though were also below their best in a scrappy game. Graham won and scored an early penalty, with Sebastiaan adding two beautiful long shots. It wasn’t enough to prevent a 6-3 half-time scoreline, though it could have been much closer as Rachel had a mid-range shot controversially disallowed and a penalty was missed to boot.
A rousing half time team talk by Mark and the introduction of himself saw an improved second half performance. Two long shots and another penalty by Graham, and a great shot from Sebaastian had the scores level at 7-7, however Sydney couldn’t continue the momentum, eventually going to down to a 9-7 defeat. That meant the Redbacks could no longer make the final and it was a devastating defeat – to have come back from 3 down before falling at the final hurdle.
Sydney 2-9 Boomers
Scorers: Laurie, Graham
Keen to go out with a bang, The Redbacks were focused on producing a good performance with some quality korfball in the last match. However it was not to be – overthinking attacking moves and forcing difficult passes led to the ball being turned over all too often. Laurie though, provided a moment to cheer in the first half as he scored his first goal, finishing from long range with style. The Redbacks second half defensive performance was excellent, with Victoria in particular excelling – winning several fouls and grabbing any loose ball. In the end, the defence wasn’t enough though as the 9-2 defeat proved.
So it was a disappointing end to what had the potential to be a great day for the Redbacks, but much can still be made of the positives. Shoring up the defence with more assured performances as the tournament went on was certainly a highlight. As was the vast improvements made and experience gained by the whole team, helped by the tremendous influence of coach Mark.
As the end of season awards approach, there are certainly lots of highs to celebrate, however the disappointment of unfulfilled potential will certainly spur the Redbacks on to greater success next time around – the trophy will be ours!!