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Covid-19 Level 2 restrictions meant not only were there were no spectators; games were also cut from 15-minute to 12-minute quarters.
In a repeat of last year’s final, the Southern Magpies turned the tables on Physed A with a consistent performance against the defending champion, taking the win 41-34.
The first few minutes of the match the teams went goal for goal until a rebound for Southern three minutes in from Lisa Lin gave it the first break.
Lauren Pickett got in on the action early, too, with an intercept that was also scored from.
Southern then scored off its own centre pass to go up 7-2.
Physed did not look as settled as usual and forced passes, causing errors which Southern pounced on to take it to a 15-6 lead at the first break.
Speed on attack from Southern also appeared to lessen the effectiveness of the Physed defence.
The battle between the centres, Lauren Pickett for Southern and Georgia White for Physed, was a tough one, as each worked hard to contain the other.
Physed was able to lift slightly during this quarter, drawing it at 10-10, but went into halftime down 25-16.
Kate Heffernan and Ella Brown, Southern Steel and Southern Blast players respectively, were introduced at centre and wing defence for Physed.
The changes paid off with Physed up 5-3 in the period after four minutes.
But the payoff was short-lived.
Southern pulled back almost immediately.
The connection between Heffernan and the attackers was rusty in her first outing for Physed this season.
Again, Southern capitalised on the errors and took a 33-25 lead into the final break.
The final quarter went the same way as the second and third, the defence at both ends of the court keeping the scoring rate down.
Accuracy was the issue for Physed and although Southern was not always as accurate as usual, its consistency made the difference.
In the other games, St Hilda’s Senior A dispatched the Physed C side 56-28.
Physed B gave College a scare in the first quarter, but College lifted its performance for the remainder of the game to take a convincing 43-29 win.
University Albion A claimed its first victory of the season against South Pacific Titans A, 55-38.
With semifinals next week there will be a repeat of the Southern Magpies versus Physed A fixture in semifinal two.
In semifinal one, top-of-the-table College takes on St Hilda’s Senior A.
The bottom four will also play with Physed B coming up against South Pacific Titans, who are yet to get a win this season, and Physed C plays University Albion A.
- Bridget Thayer