Souths Lions mounted a stunning fourth-quarter comeback against Nova on Saturday afternoon, shooting 14 goals to seven in the last fifteen minutes to end Thunders’ four-game unbeaten start to the 2020 Newcastle Netball season.
The two 2020 heavyweights didn’t let up for a moment in the 95-goal contest, even down to the final half-dozen goals — most of which the Lions were able to put away to seal their gutsy 49–46 comeback in the final minutes of the Round 6 game.
The Thunder surged out to a healthy lead in the first quarter, with lethal shooting combo Brooke Fennings and Abbie Gray combining for 18 goals against Souths’ 10.
The Lions were able to win the next 11–9, with Janas Burgess and Katelyn Stansfield red-hot in the sunny afternoon heat, but still trailed by six thanks to Nova’s impressive opening onslaught.
Souths weren’t able to wrestle back the lead in the third either, even after bringing on Mille Tonkin to fire in the circle, but they did chalk up another single-stanza triumph; the Lions took the third 14–12 in another high-scoring slice of the clash.
That rampaging run set them up for the victory in the fourth, as they doubled Nova’s goals in a last-gasp effort to get over the line. The ladies in red pulled it off — helped on by two huge blocks from Tianna Cummings at the death — to win the match.
It was a “funny old game” Souths coach Tracey van Dal told the Women’s Chronicle; after the Lions fell to an eight-goal deficit against University in the first quarter last weekend, the team made the first fifteen minutes “their biggest focus.”
Instead, they found themselves on the wrong end of that same deficit all over again.
“It’s a funny old game like that isn’t it, we had a lot of focus on what we had to do to avoid giving away a lead like that, then we found ourselves starring down the same situation,” Tracey said, but praised her “courageous” girls for what came next.
“I’m so proud of what the girls did in the next three quarters. We didn’t quite get over the line [against Uni], so to get to that fourth quarter and be able to take the lead and the win, felt really good. I think we’ve shown what the Lions can do.”
The comeback was a good learning experience for the Lions too, which is “invaluable” for the squad that is made up of plenty of Souths youngsters.
Van Dal has taken the opportunity to give a number of young Lions, including Burgess and Lucy Tonkins, time on-court this season, and they’re “growing every game.”
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Combining with the young cohort is a spine any Newcastle Netball team could build around; evergreen mid-court general Narelle Eather, defensive powerhouse Tianna Cummings, and livewire goal attack Katelyn Stansfield.
“We’re very lucky that we’ve got a great blend there, and that Tianna and Katelyn can play this season despite their Premier League commitments,” the Lions coach said. “It’s a real privilege to have those girls leading the on-court development.”
Also on the weekend, West Leagues stayed ahead of the nine-point pack on goal difference with a 41–23 over Kotara. Round 6 also saw University lead all four quarters on their way to a 52–22 victory over Inner Glow, and move to a 5–0 unbeaten record.
Finally, BNC and Junction locked horns in the late time slot, with Whanau coming away with the one-goal win. Stella had the lead in the opening quarter, 13–10, before BNC tied it all up at the half 21-all ahead of a 42–41 full-time finish.
FIRST-GRADE STANDINGS: University (15), Souths, Nova (13), West Leagues, Inner Glow, BNC (9), Kotara South (7), Junction (5).