Flyers, Sapphires set standard under new game rules
WHEN the grand final rivals are on target, expect healthy victories, even without much game time.
That was exactly the case for defending champions Ipswich Flyers and their main rivals Goodna Sapphires to launch a new season of Queensland Premier League SEQ Cup matches.
The Flyers beat MacGregor White 52-19 on the same night the Sapphires outclassed MacGregor Red 59-29.
Preparing for her team's next clash against Carina on Thursday night, Flyers coach Nicole Grant was encouraged by the start, especially given the delayed season.
"We still have lots to work on and fine tune however we had five new players all take the court and each combination seemed to flow nicely,'' Grant said.
Sapphires captain Robyn Walsh offered similar thoughts, happy to be back playing.
"We did well and it was good opportunity to get everyone out on the court for a run,'' Walsh said.
"We made plenty of changes throughout the game without this impacting our performance.''
The Sapphires face Redcliffe in the late game on Thursday night.
In their first round hit-outs, both teams had to adapt quickly to changed requirements under COVID safe protocols at the Queensland State Netball Centre.
"We signed in fine,'' Grant said.
"Warm up was much shorter than we are used to however we have adjusted to make sure we still feel ready for the first quarter.''
She said the game felt quicker with quarters reduced to 12 minutes.
"I am sure the girls won't complain given we are still working on fitness,'' Grant said.
"I don't think we realised how much we missed it until we were back out on court.''
Walsh said the changes were quite minimal for her side.
"We do not have access to any courts to warm up on so this must be done on the court as soon as the previous game is finished,'' she said.
"The most noticeable difference is that each quarter is now only 12 minutes instead of the regular 15 minutes. This requires the team to stay focused and play hard as we do not have time on our side in the event we fall behind on the scoreboard.
"You can definitely feel the difference as a player, much quicker.''
But like Grant, Walsh said the players were glad to be back on court.
"The saying is true,'' she said. "You do not miss what you have till you do not have it.''
Among the Flyers' best in their opening win were young shooters Lusa-Laquane Segi and Rayna Verrenkamp.
"They really proved why they had been picked in this year's team,'' Grant said.
"Both had outstanding starts to their season.
"We are all very excited for what is to come for their future in the game.''
Mid-court player Bridget Cumming was another standout.
"Even with changes to our team this year, I felt like we came out as our usual cohesive unit,'' Grant said.
"We put in a solid performance even though we have had a disruptive pre-season.
"I am pleased at where we have started and excited to see how much we can build throughout the season.''
Walsh said her team were strong across the court with Tayla Collier and Sarah Cullen-Reid having great games.
"That we could make changes at each quarter and we didn't skip a beat,'' she said.
"With 12 minute quarters you can't afford to take time to adjust to player changes.
"Another pleasing aspect was that we kept our fitness over the COVID period and this was evident on court.''
This year's SEQ Cup competition features four teams in four pools for the first three weeks of matches.
The Flyers are in Pool A with the Sapphires in Pool B.
Once teams play each other in their pool, the top two teams from pool go into Division 1 and the bottom group comprise Division 2.
From there, the teams play each other once before finals.
QPL SEQ Cup: Thursday at the Queensland State Netball Centre
6.30pm: Ipswich Flyers v Carina Leagues Metro 2
9.10pm: Goodna Sapphires v Redcliffe at State Netball Centre.