Richmond goal attack Nicki Rampton fires another accurate shot during Saturday night's semi final. Photo: Phillip Rollo.

Richmond aim to shock Jacks

0
1836

The slate has been wiped clean as the finalists have been found for the 2013 Premier Final.  Jacks OPD booked their direct route to Thursday’s final by coming through the third round unbeaten.  The second placed team Waimea College and third placed Richmond battled out the semi final on Saturday night.

Richmond had been crushed 73-43 by Jacks OPD in a deferred game played last Sunday night.  To say Richmond was disappointed in the result would be an understatement.  It was not one of Richmond’s better games however to give Jacks their dues, they did play extremely well.  The huge loss provided Richmond with some “fire in their bellies” when they met Waimea to decide the second berth for the final.

Richmond took the court with intensity from the first whistle and their desire for the coveted finals berth was evident.  Richmond played a strong defensive game, with each and every one of the players contributing.  Contrary to their usual team rotation policy, Richmond stuck with their starting line up for the entire game.   Richmond played with patience and control, and the numerous tips were often converted.

While not making excuses, Waimea had had a tough week – they had played a practice game against Nelson Girls, Jacks on Thursday, Marlborough Girls on Friday (in the Supernet Tournament) and then backed up with Saturday’s semi final.
They were down by three at the first quarter, but had clawed back to level at the major break. It was the third period when the game slipped as Richmond’s Lisa Book and Nicky Rampton were on fire they forged out to a nine goal lead.  To their credit, Waimea dug deep to finish well and although they won the final quarter they were 45-53 in arrears at the final whistle.

Waimea had come out on the right side of the ledger in each of their three games against Richmond  this season, however it was the semi final that counted the most.

Now all eyes are on Jacks OPD and Richmond for Thursday’s final.
Jacks would have to be confident in a favourable outcome given the fact of their convincing win less than two weeks ago.  But on the other hand, anything can happen in finals netball.  Jacks will go into the game as odds on favourites, therefore all the pressure will be on them.  Richmond on the other hand have played some mediocre netball in the first two rounds.

Jacks coach, Robyn Leonard would never say they will be fine, however she concedes her charges have peaked at the right time.  They have been building consistently, and knew in advance that they wanted the direct route to the final as they had a number of players unavailable if they had to play a semi.  Robyn will select her starting lineup along the lines of who she will think can do the job.  She knows she has three accurate shooters in Ani Waitai, Leanne Cook and Chelsea Brooks, and there are numerous options in the mid court.  The defensive end has recently added a formidable defender in Janita Numa.  Jacks plan will be a simple one – stop the ball before it gets to Richmond’s circle.  Jacks play a tight defence through court, and any ball won needs to be converted.

The key to Richmond’s performance will be that of Nicky Rampton at goal attack.  Nicky has been supplied an abundance of stress free ball from Hilary Jones and Lisa Book, while goal shoot Kathleen Thornalley has put in sound performances of late.  While Lisa has been the go-to-girl at wing attack for the majority of the season, I would like to see her don the WD bib. Lisa can pick up a tremendous amount of ball around the defensive circle edge and gain valuable ball through court.  Belinda Koloamatangi is a more than able wing attack, and being the third shooter she knows how to deliver good ball.

Here’s hoping for a spectacular finale to the 2013 season – game begins at 7pm at the Alison McAlpine Health & Fitness Centre.