Newcastle may have lifted their second state title in three years off the back of an undefeated record across the three-day tournament, but the Netball NSW State Titles championship crown wasn’t confirmed until their final two fixtures.
After 16 straight wins in Campbelltown across the June long weekend competition, Newcastle’s state representatives faced two major challenges to close out their campaign – local rivals Charlestown, who were battling for a top four finish, and defending state champions Manly, the only other undefeated team.
There was a “sense of belief” heading into those final two, all-but-elimination fixtures for Newcastle, co-captain Karlie Robards told the Chronicle. Up until Sunday’s last round it had been a three-way race for the title, with Randwick in the mix as well.
After Newcastle ousted the Sydney-siders 25-23 to close the second day, the team knew they had one hand on the state silverware.
“We knew we were in with a good shot ahead of the tournament, two years ago we were able to do the same thing, but we knew we’d have some close games with the Sydney teams too,” Robards said. “Once we beat Randwick at the end of the second day we knew that we were in with a very good shot, and that it was ours to lose.”
Despite having that lead after the two-goal win over Randwick, Robards said the team still had to knuckle down and “play out” the final day.
What got them over the line in the end, the squad co-captain said, was a strong team bond that kept the team playing for each other through the final six state fixtures.
“We had this strong cohesion all across the weekend that got us over the line. I think if that wasn’t there then some results may have been very different, including some of the key games like against Manly,” Robards said.
“There were moments where if every single one of us weren’t doing our jobs perfectly then we would have lost. If someone didn’t stand up we would have lost that team dynamic, but across the court everyone was ready to stand up and play for each other.”
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Newcastle was also awarded the Weston OAM Country Championship Trophy for the third consecutive year. The trophy is awarded to the highest ranked regional team in the top Opens division.
Newcastle’s junior sides both had mid-table finishes after their three-day tournaments. The 17s placed 12 in their age bracket’s second division, notching seven wins and a draw in their 19 fixtures. Newcastle’s under-15s had a marginally better finish, winning nine and drawing one in the same amount of games to lock 10th in the championship.
Robards also praised the under-17s and under-15s teams for their involvement in cheering on the opens to the very last.
After the two Newcastle teams had run their own races, they turned up as “cheer squads” for the title-contending opens team. Their encouragement, cheering, and pre-game pump with the squad “helped massively,” Robards said.
“I want to thank all the backroom staff and coordinators from the Newcastle Netball Association too, as well as all the volunteers, and the parents that were there. They were all heavily involved, and that help got us to where we finished,” Robards said.
“The other teams were massive for us in support too. It was just a huge supportive atmosphere all round, and that was important for us. Everyone involved deserves a big thank you for everything they did in helping us get to the title.”
Check out the Chronicle’s Netball NSW 2019 State Titles mega gallery
– All photos here –