Claws in battle
THE Capricorn Claws' win over Wide Bay Wildcats on Saturday evening was not always convincing, but it did provide good entertainment for the large crowd.
The Claws deservedly won the match 53-37, but were made to battle for more than half the game at CQUniversity.
For those who watched the Claws during their 2011 State League campaign it was a matter of adjusting to the new faces on court.
The youngsters did very well and increased in confidence as the game progressed.
But in the first half it was the "old campaigners" who kept the Claws in the match.
In a patchy first-half display the Claws were forced to rely heavily on the experience of Carmen Anderson at centre and Amanda Goody in the shooting circle.
Partnered by Tia Konui, Goody gave an exemplary display with her body positioning which made life difficult for the Wide Bay defenders to pull off an intercept.
For Goody, it was Anderson who provided the greatest source of ball with some deft lobs into the circle which isolated defenders and found the Claws' tall shooter.
It was not until the middle of the third quarter that the Claws began to play with authority and take control of the outcome of the game.
A catalyst to Claws change of fortune was Kira-lee Leo who took over at goal attack.
While Konui did a good job, Leo brought an added energy and extra height to the Claws play, pressurising Wide Bay from their
own defensive circle and forcing the visitors into making more low percentage passes.
While Leo is building on her performances with the Claws last season, there were others who showed they are capable of making the transition from club to representative netball.
Ella Lawrie was given a run at wing attack without adding much to the Claws effort.
However, at half-time coach Barb Ahmat put her into her favoured position at centre and the youngster responded brilliantly, looking for the action and setting up play like a veteran.
In the defensive circle Rebecca Thompson also showed she is a fine prospect, making a series of crucial intercepts when Wide Bay threatened to pierce the defence.
"It was the best she has played for us. She really stepped up," Ahmat said.
The coach was happy with her team's effort and said even though more impressive in the second half, the Claws players also did their job in the first spell.
"Our combinations in the first half set up the second half," she said.
"We then did the hard work in the third quarter to finish off."
The coach agreed Leo was outstanding as was her shooting partner Goody.
"It was our best ever shooting. We were at 88% for the team," she said.
"Kira only missed one goal."
Ironically Goody was only inaccurate when shooting from directly below the net and Ahmat put this down to her recent injury and a slight lack of balance that can be worked out of her game in training.
With just three weeks to go before the start of the State League season, Ahmat said there were still areas of the Claws game that needed addressing.
"The long passes," she said.
Too many high and wild passes were thrown towards Goody that were hopeful rather than tactical.
"I think they were going for that bit of glory," she said.
The second problem she wants to work on is chasing loose balls at which the Claws were second best until late in the game.