Nancy, Neha, Paula, Sarah, Tania, Valerie, Victoria;
Adam, Graham, Ian, Mark, Sam, Tomas
The Redbacks rocked up to Adelaide full of optimism after NSW championship win over Newcastle, and a squad of 13 strong. Redbacks debuts for Paula and Valerie as well as a first taste of nationals for Tomas, Sam, Adam and Tania gave the Redbacks a fresh look. With only the top 2 from the round robin of 7 teams making it to the final, every game was crucial, and Sydney had Arista first up.
Game 1: Sydney 9-5 Arista
Scorers: Graham (4), Sarah (2), Ian (2), Sam
Sydney started well, creating approximately 465 chances in the first half, however lack of match practice showed as the shooting was wayward and defence a touch sloppy. Sarah bucked the trend with 2 goals from two shots as The Redbacks scraped into half time level at 4-4. In the second half, the defence was more focused and restricted Arista to only one goal after the break, allowing the 5 scored by Sydney to comfortably (in the end) seal the opening win of the tournament.
Game 2: Sydney 10-1 Boomers
Scorers: Paula (4), Graham (4), Sam, Ian
After a winning start and some cobwebs dusted off (spiders webs?), the Redbacks came out firing against Boomers, with some clinical shooting taking Sydney into a 6-0 half time lead. The good assisting leading to subsequent scoring continued after half time as Sydney reached double figures – Paula finding her shooting boots to finish the game with 4, and other goalscoring contributions from Valerie, Sam and Graham supported by strong assists. A single goal conceded also highlighted a solid defensive performance, and a particularly strong showing from Adam, Valerie, Neha and Tania coming into the line-up after sitting out Game 1.
Game 3: Sydney 7-8 Flinders
Scorers: Tomas (3), Ian, Sam, Paula, Mark
Going into the game, both Flinders and Sydney had two wins from two, and the Redbacks got the better start, looking to make it 3 from 3. Tomas was on fire, inspiring his division in attack with three goals, with Ian also adding one. Sam made it 5-2 at half time as Sydney held a strong lead going into the second half. Flinders had other ideas though, and as The Redbacks shooting deserted them, Flinders took advantage to take a 6-5 lead. Coach Mark, on as a substitute to instil some composure, levelled it up before Flinders again took a one goal lead. Late sub Paula pulled it back level once more – however it wasn’t to be as Flinders went straight up the other end to score what would be the winning goal, despite a vintage Mark alley-oop attempt at the death.
Game 4: Sydney 9-13 Newcastle
Scorers: Graham (3), Paula (2), Ian, Tomas, Valerie, Adam
Both Sydney and Newcastle went into the game with 2 wins out of 3 (both experiencing narrow defeats against Flinders), and so the game took on an extra dimension, being a local derby with the possibility of a spot in the final on the line. The quality and intensity on display was high, with a fast start by both teams as the goals flew in at both ends. Graham (3), Ian, Tomas and Valerie got first half goals as The Redbacks fought to stay in the game, 8-6 down at half time. A sensational start to the second half saw Paula score twice to make it 8-8. A strong Newcastle division then scored two in two attacks to wrestle back the momentum and ultimately, Sydney couldn’t respond. The Redbacks registering only one more goal as Adam came off the bench and scored his only shot of the game; exactly as he had done in the last NSW championship game up in Newcastle.
Game 5: Sydney 6-3 Glenelg
Scorers: Tomas (3), Sam (2), Mark
With a place in the final unlikely, the Redbacks rotated the squad and the relatively inexperienced team played some good korfball, with solid defence and plenty of chances created in attack. Two goals from Tomas was the difference at half-time, and although the defence started to allow Glenelg into the game, two goals from Sam, another from Tomas and a textbook penalty by Mark was enough to ensure Sydney rediscovered the winning feeling.
Game 6: Sydney 9-5 North Adelaide
Scorers: Sam (2), Tomas (2), Victoria, Nancy, Sarah, Paula, Graham
The final pool game started badly for Sydney as a mix-up in defence ended up with a goal-scoring opportunity for Norths as well as Graham needing a ‘rest’ after an awkward collision in the nether-regions. With multiple substitutions made, Sydney struggled to get into a rhythm, trailing 3-1. A half-time spray from Coach Mark did the trick as Sydney discovered some form in the second half, ensuring they ended the tournament on a high. Goals were shared around as Nancy and Victoria helped take Sydney into an 8-5 lead. As the final few seconds approached, and keen not to concede – Adam leaped to intercept on the half way line, smashing the ball towards the opposition goal. Ian gathered, drew the defence before dishing off to Tomas to coolly finish on the buzzer.
With no final appearance for Sydney, the final goal was a fitting end to a promising tournament for The Redbacks. Though Sydney were unfortunate to miss out on the final, Newcastle were worthy winners against Flinders. All signs point to a successful 2019 for NSW, as the venue for Nationals 2019 will be in Maitland, and Sydney and Newcastle will be expected to put on a good showing against the travelling teams, both in the A-grade and the B-grade.