THE Capricorn Claws still have some work to do to catch up with the best teams in the state competition, but the gap continues to narrow.
Over the weekend the Claws were in Brisbane facing the Cougars and the Suncoast Lynx, arguably the two best teams in the 2012 competition.
In previous encounters the Cougars have run away with matches against the Claws but on Saturday the Central Queensland girls stayed in contact for much of the match.
"At half-time it was 26-20, they (Cougars) had to battle to get the ball into the circle," Ahmat said.
"We were pulling centre passes off them.
"It is the best opening game (in State League) we've ever had."
Unfortunately the Claws cause was not helped by their own shooters having an uncharacteristic inaccurate game, recording 53% and 66%.
The Claws wilted during the second half with the third quarter a disaster for the team as the Cougars took the match out of their reach.
Ahmat said the problem was not the fitness of the players.
"We are physically fit but need to be mentally fit," she said.
"Teams like the Cougars and Lynx have tougher match play and intensity in their competition."
Many of the players the Claws faced are state representatives including Cougars shooter Claudia Jones, a former Claws favourite, who is with the Queensland under-19 squad.
Carmen Anderson was named the Rockhampton Leagues club player of the match with the Cougars.
"She played three quarters of the match at centre and a quarter at goal attack," Ahmat said.
"I thought I'd mix it up with a small, fast shooter."
Anderson wasn't the only standout for the Claws, with Shanita Smith and Brooke Mann having good matches.
"Brooke really impressed, she was playing her netball in Longreach last year," Ahmat said.
Against the Lynx the Claws were always in the match and would have won had it not been for an ordinary start.
"We were down 16-5," Ahmat said.
"We won the last three quarters by 30-28."
The final score of 44-36 was a disappointment as the Claws usually finish within a couple of goals of Lynx but Ahmat said she was happy and looked forward to facing the Brisbane teams again when her players have played more competition matches.
For the Claws, defender Dannielle Wingard was outstanding as was Mikaela King throughout the weekend.
Goal attack Kira-Lee Leo had her best spell in the second half against Lynx while youngster Ella Lawrie made the most of her time on court.
The Claws next State League match will be played at Rockhampton.
Cougars 55 def Capricorn Claws 29
Suncoast Lynx 44 def Capricorn Claws 36