Seventeens soar: Bathurst juniors finish with silver at State Championships

BATHURST’S under 17s still had plenty to smile about despite being denied a Netball NSW State Championships title by a cruel, narrow margin on the weekend.

SILVER RESULT: Bathurst's under 17s netball side celebrate their division two runner-up finish at the State Championships.

SILVER RESULT: Bathurst's under 17s netball side celebrate their division two runner-up finish at the State Championships.

The team finished level on top of the division two table with Hills District – each association winning 18 of their 19 matches – but Bathurst were denied by score-to-match ratio.

The blue and gold were a driven team at this year’s championships, determined to improve upon what they saw as a disappointing fifth place in the 2017 edition.

Bathurst set about that task in promising fashion by winning all their Saturday and Sunday matches, starting with 15 straight successes.

It wasn’t until Monday morning against eventual champions Hills where Bathurst were beaten, to the tune of 29-17.

Bathurst finished their tournament with three tough victories – including a crucial 29-24 win over third placed Southern Fusion – to ensure the top two result and almost certain promotion to next year’s championship division.

“You can’t be unhappy with second. The girls played beautiful netball and Hills were a strong team,” Bathurst coach Melissa Noonan said.

“Hills were flawless. We made a few mistakes and that cost us in the end. We threw everything we had at them and they were too good on the day.

“Playing 19 games of netball and only dropping one of them is a really impressive effort.”

Hills finished with a positive point differential of 262 while Bathurst left with 178.

Trouble wasn’t something Bathurst encountered much over their run towards the Hills clash.

The team held their nerve to survive a couple of close calls against Kiama (19-16), Maitland (22-17) and Central West rivals Dubbo (22-15).

Bathurst had another scare against Lakeside (22-20) following the Hills match but emerged with a win to leave Gosford with an 18-1 record.

“We seem to play to the standard of the bottom teams at times, which is something that happens when you’re playing that much netball,” Noonan said.

“We couldn’t get the run on against those lower ranked teams and that proved the difference in the goal average. 

“When we played Kiama they were sitting in 19th and we were at one. When there’s only two goals in it you know things aren’t going right and you need to make changes. They were a few games like that.

“But when we play some of those higher ranked teams the girls really dug in and managed to get a run on.”

Noonan said the result bodes well for Bathurst netball’s future at the junior level.

“This should mean we get to go up to championship division. We’ve got eight players eligible for next year’s team, providing they are selected,” she said.

“There’s no reason they shouldn’t step up. The championship division games were on during a different round to us so we got to look at a few of them play.

“From watching those games I think we can definitely be in the mix up there.

“Any position in championship division is higher than winning division two. We’ll have to fine tune our game but the girls are so eager to learn and try anything. They connected so well over the weekend.”