Sapphires win WNSL title

NSW Sapphires has been crowned WNSL champion for the third time, overwhelming title favourite and defending champion Queensland Sting 3-1 at Richlands Stadium in Brisbane.

NSW Sapphires has been crowned WNSL champion for the third time, overwhelming title favourite and defending champion Queensland Sting 3-1 at Richlands Stadium in Brisbane.

The Sapphires - runners-up in the past three seasons - inflicted the Sting's first grand final defeat in four home deciders.

Despite a youthful line-up that included six teenagers in the starting XI, NSW was not overawed against its more experienced rival and took a 3-0 lead before Queensland scored a consolation goal.

Both teams created a squandered several goalscoring opportunities with NSW more precise in front of goal as Queensland suffered its only loss of the season.

NSW went ahead six minutes before the interval when Michelle Carney unselfishly fed Sally Shipard, and she made no mistake from just inside the penalty area.

The visiting side doubled its advantage on 55 minutes after Queensland's defence failed to clear the ball to any great effect.

NSW skipper Taryn Rockall chipped a neat pass over the top of the defence from about 20-yards for Carney, who beat Queensland goalkeeper Belinda Kitching to the ball to toe poke home.

The home side continued to push forward in the second half and NSW found the killer blow with just five minutes left to play.

Catherine Cannuli was set free down the left wing but her two efforts on goal were kept out by Kitching - but she could not prevent Leah Blayney finding the back of the net from the second rebound.

In stoppage time, Queensland grabbed nothing more than a consolation goal as Belinda Dawney volleyed home substitute Heather Garriock?s cross.

"For the girls who've been here for the four years, this win is a big weight off their shoulders. It's great to have broken through that barrier," a delighted Sapphires coach Alen Stajcic said after the game.

Teams:

Queensland Sting:
Belinda Kitching, Sarah Garven (Sarah Walsh 76), Karla Reuter, Pam Grant, Jessica Mitchell (Heather Garriock 55), Alicia Ferguson (Ellen Beaumont 82), Kate McShea (c), Bryony Duus (Kim Carroll 82), Lana Harch, April Mann (Elissia Canham 76), Belinda Dawney.

NSW Sapphires: Cassandra Kell, Emma Davison, Lisa Gilbert (Julia Bazi 89), Danielle Brogan (Briony Holcombe 85), Sally Shipard, Taryn Rockall (c), Kylie Ledbrook (Katie Hilder 89), Leah Blayney, Jo Burgess (Belinda Ristevski 74), Michelle Carney, Catherine Cannuli.
Source: Sportal