Sarah Kitcher in action during the under-19 National Netball Championships between NSW and SA at the Waverley Netball Centre. Photo : IAN KNIGHT (SMP IMAGES)
Sarah Kitcher in action during the under-19 National Netball Championships between NSW and SA at the Waverley Netball Centre. Photo : IAN KNIGHT (SMP IMAGES) Ian Knight (SMP Images)

Kitcher battles on at national championships despite injury

DESPITE NSW finishing in the bottom half, Grafton's Sarah Kitcher was delighted at playing her first National Under-19 Netball Championships in Melbourne.

The Grafton High Year 12 student suffered ligament damage to her thumb on the third day but continued to take the court in goal defence and goal keeper positions throughout the tournament.

New South Wales was depleted throughout the tournament losing star goal attack Alisha Cairns to a ruptured ACL on the first day of the tournament.

They went on to win just two of seven preliminary rounds to finish fifth on the table, but made amends in the playoff for minor positions, but finished strongly, defeating ACT 40-22 and Tasmania 37-27 to secure fifth overall.

"It was a really, really good experience," Kitcher said. "I enjoyed it so much. It was really exciting making my debut.

"The intensity at this level is a much bigger step up. I've learnt a lot in the past three months, especially to do with technical aspects of the game."

Kitcher impressed in her first outing at national level, including earning the praise of head coach Briony Akle after coming on midway through the 46-24 loss to Western Australia which featured 197cm (6ft 5in) goal shooter Annika-Lee Jones.

"Billy Gurr did a fantastic job against Lee-Jones and for Sarah Kitcher to come out and perform the way she did with limited nationals experience was really encouraging," Akle said after the match.

Tonight Kitcher lines up for State League Division One side Baulkham Hills who come up against competition leaders St George in round four of the Waratah Cup.

After an extended time away she returns home to Grafton tomorrow.

"I'm looking forward to getting back into netball at home and training hard for next year's team."

Kitcher was one of just two country-based players in the NSW Under-19 squad and will be eligible for selection again for the 2015 tournament.

NSW had five players selected in the Australian Under-19 Development Squad.

Meanwhile, NSW finished runners-up in the Under-17 division, going down 29-25 to Victoria in the final, and had seven players selected in the Australian Under-17 Development Squad.



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