As the Deakin University Australian Netball League finals played out over the weekend, Southern Force Coach Brian Lines reflected upon his team’s season as one of consistent development.
After remaining winless for the first seven matches of the season, Southern Force recorded their first win in a 46-68 tussle with the Territory Storm. Despite their initial losses however, Lines remained positive on the direction of the team.
“I think that our performances in most of those earlier rounds were very strong. Against an opposition of such seasoned ANL players, we were able to deliver solid performances despite being such a young and new group,” he said.
As the minor rounds drew to a close, hard work and developing connections culminated into determined performances with the team’s settled line-up proving victorious in the last five games of the season. Lines also largely attributes the successes to the significant improvement of players Chelsea Blackman and Kelly Altman, with Nyah Allen and Asha Thurlow appearing as stand outs in their first year.
Having missed out on finals contention by six points, Lines is remaining positive on the future potential of the squad, following their Round 5 come-from-behind victory over the NSW Waratahs that displayed their potential.
“We had the benefit of having a couple Adelaide Thunderbirds in the side, as did the Waratahs in Swifts players, but it was an awesome game to be a part of,” Lines said. “I thought the game was of a really high intensity, and to see the girls fight back from four goals down at three-quarter time, and end up winning that game, was a really strong team effort.”
Lines also highlights some of this on-court intensity as a benefit of both playing and training with Adelaide Thunderbirds players on a regular basis, stating that their professionalism and real commitment to the game is invaluable to developing Southern Force players.
With the benefit of having Adelaide Thunderbird players drop into the team, however, also comes the difficulty for players and coaching staff to form effective combinations.
“It was a conscious effort by the coaching group this year to really make sure that our structures were able to be effective and managed, regardless of who we had on the court,” Lines said.
“It’s not easy, but I think we did really well this year”.
In the wake of a season fueled with opportunities for development and glimpses of brilliance, the Southern Force players will now return to their respective clubs for the remainder of the Netball SA Premier League competition.