Phoenix coach Julie Hoornweg gave the Jaegers kudos for their hard work and tenacious spirit in their tussle tonight in Newcastle.
In their first `home game` of the season at the Newctasle Entertainment Centre on Friday night, the Jaegers let slip a close tussle against the Melbourne First National Phoenix 48-42.
The Jaegers went into the match sensing the chance of an upset with the minus three of their key Australian players Bianca Chatfield, Natasha Chokljat and Sharelle McMahon, but `s superb depth saw it come away with hard-fought six-goal win over the young Jaegers outfit.
Twenty-year-old Sarah Ashmore, standing in for McMahon, shone for the Phoenix netting 18/22 in an impressive first half including 100 per cent in the second quarter to propel the Phoenix to a 28-23 half-time lead.
goal shooter Abby Sargent and experienced centre Ingrid Dick stepped up in the second stanza to maintain the visitors` drive and hold off a tenacious Hunter comeback.
Coach Julie Hoornweg was pleased her side was able to cope with having key players unavailable.
"It was a good effort from us considering we had three players missing, one each from part of the court and therefore had no established combinations out there," she said.
"But they (the Jaegers) were tenacious and it just goes to show what hard work can do."
Disappointed Jaegers coach Jon Fletcher felt his team had their chances, but were rushed off the ball by the defence.
"We just had to be smarter in possession and I didn`t think we used the ball as near as well as we could," Fletcher said.
"It was just a number of unforced errors that hurt us in the end."
The home started better, skipping out to an early 4-2 lead before the found their range under the net to hold a 12-10 lead at quarter time.
Ashmore began to exert her dominance in the second quarter, using her pace and agility to continually find space in behind the Jaegers defence and extend the visitors` lead to 20-16 midway through the second term.
At the same time, the Phoenix attacking line started to gel with skipper Wendy Jacobsen (WA) and Sargent working some good combinations for Melbourne to hold a handy 28-23 lead at half-time.
A determined effort from Jaegers skipper Jane Menzies saw the home side claw their way back within three points midway through the third term but the Phoenix were able to restore their five-point advantage, 36-31 with a quarter to play.
Harding and Welham were benched for the final quarter with 191cm Karyn Bailey on as goal shooter and Tiffany Lincoln pushed up to goal attack. But the momentum was with the and they skipped out to a 12-point lead midway through the final period.
The Jaegers finished stronger with Bailey gaining confidence under the net and using her height to great advantage to bring it back to a six-point ball game at the final whistle.
Match Report provided by Mark Hughes, Sportal and courtesy of Netball Australia
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