AFTER a gruelling three days at the 50th Netball NSW State Championships, Charlestown Netball Association finished third, level on points with rivals Newcastle and just six points behind table-topping Manly Warringah.

Charlestown fell victim to eventual champions Manly in the opening day at Gosford’s Adcock Park, with their only defeat a 19-24 result against the first placed association, but outside of the 5-goal defeat their campaign soared.

Charlestown lost just once more over the three-day tournament – a low-scoring 13-11 defeat at the hands of Woy Woy – but two draws to Lismore (8-8) and Wyong (17-17) proved crucial in their pursuit of a runners-up patch and the Country trophy.

Despite the middle-day struggles, the opens squad charged to an undefeated last day to finish on 26 points, dropping into third place under Newcastle by merit of percentages. The association also capped their final day with a 29-8 masterclass against Queanbeyan.

It was the 12-11 victory to round out Sunday’s fixtures that shone most for Charlestown, opens coach Leonie Barrett said, with the “heart and soul” of the team securing a “major highlight for the weekend”.

“After encountering Newcastle in both the Regional League and at the recent representative carnival, we had yet to defeat the strong defensive side,” Barrett said. “This all changed in the last game of the second day, where we finally defeated the Newcastle side in a nail-biter.”

“All the players put their heart and soul into this game, and the desired outcome was achieved. This was indeed a major highlight of the weekend … one [the team] will truly remember.”

Despite the “gut-wrenching” end to the tournament as Charlestown dropped to third despite their best efforts, Barrett praised her squad for their “camaraderie, mateship and aura”.

“The team can hold their heads high,” she said. “This team of ten extremely talented netballers hold is one to be seen and admired …. no matter what, these ladies go out there and give it their all for each other.”

“They constantly put their bodies on the line in the spirit of the game, and leave nothing in the tank. I could not be more proud of their achievements over the three days, and it was my privilege to share in their journey.”

In the under-17 second division, Charlestown’s campaign saw mixed results, as the junior squad finished eighth with an 11-8 final record.

Charlestown’s rising stars opened their account undefeated on Saturday, but a 5-8 record over the final two days saw them slip down the ladder to their eventual 22 point finish.

First published as: Charlestown draw on ‘mateship’ at Championships