Courageous Claws season comes to an end in Cairns
NETBALL: The Rockhampton Leagues Club Capricorn Claws' season is over after they were beaten 57-31 by a red-hot Marlin Coast Marlins in Cairns on Saturday night.
The loss meant the Claws slipped to third place on the Queensland State Netball League Division 2 Country table and out of finals contention.
The Marlins and first-placed North Queensland Steelcats are the two country teams that will advance to the finals.
Coach Barb Ahmat (pictured) said the Claws were valiant in defeat but the Marlins brought their A-game on their home court.
"I'm fairly sure we would have liked to go out on a much better performance,” she said yesterday.
"But hats off to the Marlins, they've obviously worked very hard in the last couple of weeks.
"They were 150% better than the last time we played them and they will certainly be a strong contender going down to the City v Country finals.”
The Marlins, who had a habit of starting slowly in their previous round games, jumped out of the blocks to lead 14-6 at quarter time.
They led 29-13 at half-time and 43-16 at three quarter time and despite being outscored in the final quarter had done enough to take the win.
Ahmat said the Marlins' defence was incredible and their towering shooters were hard to contain.
A telling factor of their rock-solid defence came in the final quarter when the Marlins took off their goal keeper and Claws' goal shooter Jacinta James shot at 100%, scoring 11 from 11.
Ahmat said while the Claws would have loved to advance to the finals series, they should be proud of their achievements in what had been one of their toughest seasons to date.
They had faced a number of challenges, which included losing several key players at the start of the season and a change of coach mid-season when Michelle Heatley resigned due to work commitments.
"The resilience the girls have shown is really commendable,” Ahmat said.
"We were vying for second spot and to do that on top of such a challenging season our girls can really hold their heads high.
"The Claws have been fairly dominant since 2009 and it's fantastic to see the other country teams coming up to equal the bar that we set.
"Now we have to set the bar higher for the future and I think we'll certainly do that.”
Meanwhile, the Claws 19s recorded one win and one loss on their road trip to the Gold Coast at the weekend.
On Saturday, they scored an impressive 57-38 win over Darling Downs Panthers but were then beaten by the Brisbane East Tigers 58-45 on Sunday.
Unfortunately, it was another injured-plagued weekend for them.
Centre court player Emily Bleney injured her knee on Saturday and defender/shooter Tori Rouse only returned to Rockhampton today after a back injury forced her from the court on Sunday.
Rouse was discharged from the Gold Coast hospital on Sunday night and is expected to undergo further scans.
The Claws 19s are Brisbane-bound this weekend to take on the Suncoast Lynx on Saturday and the Tigers on Sunday.