NSW Women’s Waratah State League, round 18
Who: Queanbeyan Yowies v Wagga Wagga Blaze
Where: Wagga Wagga
When: Sunday, 11am
DO or die, now or never, all or nothing. You could take your pick of sporting clichés to describe Queanbeyan’s clash against the Wagga Wagga Blaze this weekend.
Whichever you run with, Sunday’s match is set determine the Yowies’ finals fate this season.
Win, and Queanbeyan is all-but certain to earn a home semi-final against either Newcastle or Central Coast – two sides the Yowies would be expected to account for comfortably.
Lose, and Queanbeyan will face an arduous nine-hour road trip to take on Pool A heavyweights Coffs Harbour, the team that knocked the Yowies out of last year’s semi-finals.
“This is a make or break game for us,” Queanbeyan captain Kristen Langhorn says. “I think a few of us are only just starting to realise what’s a stake this time around.
“We want to avoid Coffs Harbour for as long as possible and the difference between having to play them up there and getting a home final is massive.”
After Queanbeyan’s incredible 17-1 regular season run to the semi-finals last season, the Yowies have endured a more mixed 2012 posting six wins and five losses from their 11 games.
Without inspirational coach Nathan Arousi on board, Langhorn admitted Queanbeyan had struggled with its motivation but said the looming prospect of securing a home final had served to refocus the side.
Standing in the Yowies’ home final path, Wagga will be just as desperate to hold Queanbeyan at bay on their home court.
The Blaze is currently in the box seat to secure a home final of their own but a loss would see the two club’s fortunes reversed, likely forcing Wagga into an elimination match up against a powerhouse Coffs Harbour outfit.
As it has all season, Wagga’s attack will focus heavily on the work of star American import Brooque Williams. Williams is the league’s top scorer this season and produced a 31-point haul to lead the Blaze to a 57-48 victory over Queanbeyan the last time the two sides met in round 13.
“They’ve already come out and said they’re pretty much just going to give [Williams] the ball and let her do her thing so she’s the big threat,” Langhorn says.
“Once the ball gets in her hands it doesn’t seem to leave them again so if we can stop the ball getting to her, it’ll make a huge difference.”