Sparks, Panthers take hard roads to Grand Final
August 24, 2016
Two young, talented netball teams will go head-to-head for their chance to be crowned the first ever SAMSUNG Premier League Under 20s Champions at Netball Central tonight, Wednesday 24 August.
After what has been a fantastic inaugural season, only the UTS St George Sparks and Panthers are still standing after earning the right to contest the Grand Final.
While Sparks took out the Minor Premiership and their Semi Final to go straight into the Final, it was a demanding couple of weeks leading into the Finals for the Panthers who had to go via the Preliminaries. That’s something Head Coach Jaqua Heddle believes showed the strength and resilience of her team, however.
“We were really challenged in the middle of the season and we put ourselves in a situation where we were potentially out of the four,” she said.
“We had to win five in a row to get to where we are now and that is an enormous amount of pressure, but we knew we had it in us and that just proves the character of our team and the mate-ship that accompanies it.”
Heddle knows that the Panthers will have an even bigger challenge on their hands tonight when they take the court against the in-form Sparks, but believes they can win through.
“Getting to the Grand Final can sometimes be harder than playing the (actual game), and five weeks of that accumulative pressure to win is quite incredible,” Heddle said.
“We were really under the pump so it was extremely difficult especially when you have such young athletes but I’m so happy for them and I just want them to enjoy it.”
But wasn’t all smooth sailing for the Sparks, who struggled during pre-season and early in the competition.
“We were last in pre-season and then our first game we were beaten by about 20 (goals),” Sparks Head Coach Regan Tweddle noted.
“The girls have just built every single week so to go from last (place) to the first team into the Grand Final. It’s an achievement in itself and we are extremely proud of the girls.
“Their determination has grown and they have been very courageous considering how young they are and I think to be that first team to win the premiership would be very special.”
Both Heddle and Tweddle know that tonight won’t be easy and both teams have played great netball in their quest to a reach the last two.
“Panthers have a very strong attacking end and they are very deadly, so we really need to work hard on (limiting their influence),” Tweddle said.
“They have really strong players all over the court and they are experienced, so that always counts for something,”
Heddle echoed her counterpart’s sentiments when asked about the opposition.
“Our only goal was to make it into the Grand Final and we have done that. The Sparks aren’t going to be easy – they have a lot of talented players and not everyone can win a Grand Final, so irrespective of what the result is we are so proud of the girls and how hard they have worked.”
Grand Final Tickets Update
Please note that all online ticket allocations are now exhausted, with a VERY LIMITED number available for purchase on the door.
These tickets will be sold on a first come, first served basis, and some spectators may have to stand.
However you can still follow all the action online via our LIVE STREAM starting with the U20s at 6:55pm.