Imperials win close battle

Port Lincoln netball

PRELIMINARY FINAL

Souths lost to Imperials 30-40

THIS final was always going to be an epic battle.

Previous encounters had both teams without key players and this was the first time both teams took to the court with their full complement.

Imperials instantly turned the ball on Souths' first centre pass but Souths scored first after two successive turnovers from both teams.

Neither team was willing to give an inch defensively, until Imperials threw six goals on the trot on the back of some brilliant work by Semmler in wing defence.

Her link with Sargent in centre was beautiful to watch and with Sargent working with Hayman in wing attack, their feeds needed to be precise to prevent Souths' defences Barker and Liddell grabbing the high ball.

Reidy, against Sargent, was playing her usual free flowing, fast game. Their match up was a highlight of the first quarter, along with the great work by Souths' goalies Vlassco and De la Salle who rebounded their own ball if needed.

With scores tied on eight and no changes, the second quarter was tight and low scoring. Souths hit the scoreboard early to be six in front, with Gudzenovs proving her worth from wing defence.

With Liddell and Barker continuing to hamper Imperials' flow to goals, Souths were looking the goods.

Sawyer and Pilgrim in goals for Imperials stepped up their game, and with a lay-up goal from Sawyer bringing the crowd into the game, Imperials pulled back a couple to be down by four at the long break.

Imperials swapped goalies and circle defenders, which began to pay dividends halfway through the quarter.

Harris, with the goal defence bib, drove the centre court strongly and did not waste a pass and Hickman in goal keeper was intercepting the ball without giving Souths a shot on goal.

Imperials scored eight in a row, with Hayman finding great form in wing attack, controlling feeds into goals.

With only two goals separating the teams going into the final quarter, Matena went on at wing attack for Souths. Imperials remained unchanged.

It was goal for goal and with Imperials having the first centre pass, scoring was premium.

Souths' goal keeper was not making it easy though and together with Liddell fought hard to stop Imperials.

Times medallist Sargent was giving her all and a timely, full flight intercept recorded the first break in centre pass scoring, after six goals to each team. This was the catalyst for Imperials who reeled off five unanswered goals, with Semmler pivotal in the linking play.

Imperials won by 10 and take on the unbeaten Wayback in this week's grand final.