The finals picture has become a lot clearer following the completion of Round 16 of the Victorian Netball League (VNL) at the State Netball and Hockey Centre on Wednesday night.
In Championship, the DC North East Blaze returned to the top four with a dominant 61-38 win against the Yarra Valley Grammar Ariels.
The Blaze had an even contribution from their shooters with Stacey Gannon, Sarah Hogan and Simone Nalder all registering 18 goals or more.
Making way for the Blaze in the top four, the Wilson Storage Southern Saints went down 56-52 in a nail-biting encounter against the City West Falcons.
The victory for the Falcons has secured them a top two finish this season. The loss for the Saints means they will have to rely on other results and win their final two matches against the Ariels and the Boroondara Express to feature in the finals.
The Melbourne University Lightning are flying high and at the top of the Championship ladder after recording a 40-goal win against the ACU Sovereigns.
Strengthened by the recent return of their Victorian Fury players, the Lightning are the team to beat this year with an even list of contributors across the floor.
The Boroondara Express and the Geelong Cougars also recorded big victories against the Monash University Storm and the Peninsula Waves respectively.
Triumphing in front of their home fans on Monday night, the Express only need to win one of their remaining two matches to secure a finals berth.
In Division One, the Blaze secured top spot on the VNL ladder this season with a narrow three goal win against the Ariels.
They sit two wins clear of the Falcons who posted a 48-31 win against the Saints.
The Cougars moved into third position after they recorded a 10-goal win against the Waves.
They were led in attack by Goal Shooter Grace Parker, who continued her excellent season by shooting 32 from 37.
In the remaining two matches, the Express and the Lightning recorded comfortable victories against the Storm and the Sovereigns respectively.
The Cougars, Blaze, Sovereigns and Falcons will contest the 19/Under finals series this year.
The Cougars took their unbeaten streak to 16 games this season after recording an emphatic 67-34 win against the Waves.
In other matches the Blaze, Express and Falcons recording single digit victories against the Ariels, Storm and Saints while Sovereigns defeated the Lightning 50-39.
VNL Round 16 Results
Boroondara Express 69 def 39 Monash University Storm
DC North East Blaze 61 def 38 Yarra Valley Grammar Ariels
City West Falcons 56 def 52 Wilson Storage Southern Saints
Peninsula Waves 41 def by 70 Geelong Cougars
Melbourne University Lightning Netball Club 72 def 32 ACU Sovereigns
Boroondara Express 51 def 43 Monash University Storm
City West Falcons 48 def 31 Wilson Storage Southern Saints
Peninsula Waves 46 def by 56 Geelong Cougars
Melbourne University Lightning 59 def 38 ACU Sovereigns
DC North East Blaze 58 def 55 Yarra Valley Grammar Ariels
Boroondara Express 45 def 42 Monash University Storm
Peninsula Waves 34 def by 67 Geelong Cougars
Melbourne University Lightning 39 def by 50 ACU Sovereigns
DC North East Blaze 44 def 39 Yarra Valley Grammar Ariels
City West Falcons 48 def 45 Wilson Storage Southern Saints