Dogged campaign brought to an end

THERE was disappointment for the Nambucca Valley Opensnetball side who were forced to withdraw on day three of their State Championships campaign over the long weekend, while the younger 17s side finished sixth overall.

It was never going to be an easy venture for the opens who had struggled throughout the year with numbers and injuries. And, virtually on the eve of thechampionships, assistant coach and player Corinne Luffman was badly injured in a car accident at Nambucca Heads.

Coach Melanie Angel said the move to withdraw from the champs while they were still underway was regrettable, but necessary.

“It was a hard decision, but we saw the writing on the wall and just had to do it,” she said.

“To go away down a player, you’re always going to struggle, and with the number of injuries growing it was best we pull out of the last six games.”

Despite withdrawing, the two games the side won on the first day kept them off the bottom of theladder in the elite grade.

“We were always going to be at a disadvantage going into the Championship Division against sides who have around 50 or more girls to choose from, while we struggled to get 10,” Mel said.

“But the games we did win, were convincing, and the losses weren’t a flogging either, so it’s a credit to the girls for fighting to get the points.

“We certainly stepped up to championship style netball and held our own.

“Every game was for Corinne.”

It was a different story for the under 17s who have had nothing but success this year.

From 22 games, the girls lost only five – some by the narrowest of margins.

“I’m not surprised how the girls played,” coach Helen Black said. “They are a sensational teamwho are playing at an amazingstandard.”

The girls lost to eventualwinners Charlestown by just six goals, while they lost to second placed Taree by one point. Both games were quite even and unforced errors and the bounce of the ball was the difference between winning and losing those games and just two other matches.

“We were competitive in every game, being in the lead or even at half time for every game except one,” Helen said.

The girls ended up sixth overall, though many would feel thatplacing doesn’t appropriately reflect the side’s high quality of play.

“We ended up sixth; however I feel we were probably a second or third place contender really,” Helen said.

“The girls executed everything we did at training and got better over the weekend. As a coach the hard intense work is at training and seeing the girls put it into practise on court is very rewarding.

“I am proud of how they played, their intense commitment, and they still maintained a beautiful, fair composure on court – even in very trying circumstances. Icouldn’t be prouder!”

* The Nambucca juniors (under 12s-15s) head to Wollongong for the State Age Championships over the weekend of June 28-30.

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