Flyers keen to rebound, Sapphires shining in ‘quality’ QPL
INCISIVE Ipswich Flyers coach Nicole Grant describes this year's Queensland Premier League (QPL) series as "super quick''.
"You only get one crack at each team and it's extremely hard to plan as we don't often know who we are playing or what time until a day before,'' she said.
The Flyers tackle Underwood in a must-win match on Thursday night.
After two narrow losses to reputable opponents, the defending premiers have to produce their trademark tenacity to make another final series.
The Flyers went down 40-39 to Western Districts in their latest match, a week after losing 46-42 to Downey Park.
"I was proud of the team,'' Grant said.
"They were very disciplined and strong. They didn't drop their heads when there was a bad call against them. They kept fighting.
"The whole team, including the players off court, were positive and encouraged their teammates for the entire game.''
Grant said the tough early draw featuring three 9.10pm games tested her team.
"I am not sure if we were mentally prepared moving into our Division 1 games. However it has certainly shown us that we need to step it up if we want to be finals contenders this year,'' she said.
Grant was waiting to see what shape this year's finals series takes.
"The draw has an elimination semi, qualifying, prelim and grand final,'' she said.
"Unfortunately with no concrete draw, planning has been more difficult this season.''
Despite what awaits her side, the Ipswich coach backed the Flyers to battle until the end.
"I am certainly confident we will make the finals,'' she said.
"The team know what needs to be done to get the win and we can't wait for a second crack at both Downey and Wests.
"We have five remaining games. I would think we need to win four to make finals.''
The Flyers led in their latest match until the final minute.
"Unfortunately it wasn't our night,'' Grant said.
"It was a great game to watch. Both teams fought hard the entire game. A real nailbiter.''
Goal shooter Rayna Verrenkamp and goal attack Kirsty Brennan stepped up in the final quarter.
Sapphires progressing well
AS the Flyers refocus on rebuilding their title defence, the Goodna Sapphires are gaining impressive momentum in this year's QPL SEQ Cup competition.
Captain Robyn Walsh was pleased with her team's latest 55-21 win over Cornubia Park to remain unbeaten.
"It was a very physical game, which we enjoyed and we played out the full game,'' Walsh said.
"We can at times get a lead and then take the foot off. We played our game and did not get caught up in the physicality.
"We had great hustle for the ball and back up over the whole court.''
After another strong all-round team effort, Walsh was encouraged by how the Sapphires are progressing.
"We started off a bit slow and but are definitely gaining momentum,'' she said.
"With such a long break, I think we may have been a little relaxed in our approach to the season.
"We have managed to build each week and are back playing consistently good netball and where we need to be.''
The experienced leader said her team, which finished runners-up last season after two previous grand final victories, was keeping everything in perspective.
"It is great to be undefeated, but we do not rest on previous games and performances,'' she said.
"We are not afraid to drop a game and a loss never hurt anyone. Being undefeated counts for nothing if you cant perform when it counts at the end of the season.''
As for the Flyers losing consecutive matches, Walsh was cautious.
"It definitely open up the competition for all teams, however it's a game of numbers,'' she said.
"There will be games won and lost over the season that can determine the final four, so it's imperative that you get as many wins on the board as you can during the rounds, to secure a place in the finals.''
She said focusing on Goodna's own game was the approach each week.
"This way we have no expectations and don't make a team anything it is not,'' she said.
"Teams can have good and bad games on any given night so scores cannot always be a reflection of the quality of the team.''
Like Flyers coach Grant, Walsh is enjoying the challenge in this year's SEQ Cup.
"I think there are more teams this year and a higher quality,'' Walsh said.
"There are plenty of associations that have fielded two teams in the Open competition.''
QPL SEQ Cup: Thursday (7.50pm) - Ipswich Flyers v Underwood; Goodna Sapphires v QUT.