The SmokeFree WA Diamonds sparkled in the sunshine to win through to their second consecutive AHL Final, while the Queensland Scorchers dominated traditional rivals, the NSW Arrows, to become the other finalist of the women’s AHL.
It will be the fourth finals appearance for the Diamonds, from which they have won two titles, while the Scorchers have featured seven times before, lifting the title only once. However it will be only the second occasion on which the two teams have met, with the Diamonds winning the last encounter in 1994. With both teams hitting the goals today, it will be a tough contest as 11 Australian senior representatives take to the field tomorrow.
The Diamonds put on a polished performance in the semi final to defeat the Adelaide Suns 5-1 and secure their spot to defend the title they won last year. Despite the Suns being the first to score and putting some early pressure on, the Diamonds were structured and skilled in creating width and space to find the attacking circle.
After being tied 1-1 at half time, the Diamonds came out into the second half with urgency and determination which soon saw the goals flow as the Suns began to tire. The Suns will now play the NSW Arrows in the third place playoff.Having lost to the NSW Arrows earlier in the week during the round matches, the Queensland Scorchers were determined to put their mark on the 2005 competition, having led the points table until round five.
In a similar fashion to the previous semi final, the Arrows slipped ahead after the third minute with a field goal from Kellie-Lee James, and the Scorchers were unable to equalise until just before half time when Nikki Hudson scored in a field goal. The second half saw the Scorchers up the pace and smash in the goals to confirm their finals spot, while the Arrows continued with their struggle to find goal-scoring prowess.
In other games of the day, the Canberra Labor Club Strikers comprehensively defeated the Wrest Point Van Demons to ensure they reached the fifth place playoff, in which they will meet the Azuma Vipers. It was an easy victory for the Strikers as the Tasmanians struggled to keep up their energy and skills, with captain Peta Gallagher scoring two goals for the home team.
Meanwhile, the Azuma Vipers had a scare in the first half of their classification match as the Territory Pearls led 1-0 at half time. An early goal from striker Emma Paterson lifted the Pearls spirits and saw them put the pressure on the Victorians.
Vipers coach Toni Cumpston snapped her team into action after the half time break, with two penalty corner goals from Amanda Gillon and a field goal from Renee Trost the result to ensure the Vipers would not finish in the bottom two.
Canberra Labor Club Strikers 7 defeated Wrest Point Van Demons 0
Goals: Strikers - Sarah Taylor PC 15m, Erin Smyth PC 25m FG 35m, Laura Desmet FG 29m, Peta Gallagher FG 41m FG 61m, Denise Jennings FG 64m
Azuma Vipers 3 defeated Territory Pearls 1
Goals: Vipers - Amanda Gillon PC 46m PC 70m, Renee Trost FG 59m; Pearls - Emma Paterson FG 5m
Semi Final 1
SmokeFree WA Diamonds 5 defeated Adelaide Suns 1
Goals: Diamonds - Kim Walker FG 32m, Shelly Liddelow FG 36m, Hope Munro FG 40m, Sian Smithson FG 52m, Bree Murray FG 68m; Suns - Bronte Pickett FG 17m
Semi Final 2
Queensland Scorchers 5 defeated NSW Arrows 1
Goals: Scorchers - Nikki Hudson PC 31m, Renae Holmes PC 42m PC 49m, Suzie Faulkner FG 52m, Jane Bennett FG 60m; Arrows - Kellie-Lee James FG 3m
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