The Falcons moved to top spot and the Ariels won their first game of the season when Round 17 of the Victorian Netball League (VNL) concluded at the State Netball and Hockey Centre on Wednesday night.
Only separated by percentage at the top of the Championship ladder leading into their clash, the City West Falcons are now leading the charge to take out the minor premiership, after a nail-biting one-goal victory against the Melbourne University Lightning.
In a game played with a finals-like intensity, Falcons Coach Marg Lind was pleased with the way her team stood up under pressure.
“It was a really good game to have for both teams heading into the finals,” Lind said.
“We were not really worried about the win or loss, we were worried about how we would handle the pressure and I think we did well. There were patches we didn’t and there were certainly things to work on, but I think the girls would be thinking the same.”
The Boroondara Express and the DC North East Blaze also secured their places in the Championship finals after they defeated the Wilson Storage Southern Saints and Peninsula Waves respectively.
While much of the focus was on the teams looking to secure a finals berth, the story of the night went to the Yarra Valley Grammar Ariels after they registered their first Championship victory of the season.
Off the back of a strong shooting performance from goaler Samantha Gooden (32/35), the Ariels proved too strong for the ACU Sovereigns, winning 53-48.
Ariels captain Katelyn Begley said it was a fantastic feeling post game.
“We have been working so hard and have seen the improvements, but getting those four points means so much to us. It is an overwhelming feeling and the girls deserve it after a tough year,” Begley said.
The Geelong Cougars were also triumphant in Championship, defeating the Monash University Storm 56-49.
In Division One, the Waves kept their finals hopes alive after upstaging the Blaze by 12.
They now must win their Round 18 clash against the Falcons and hope that the either the Cougars or the Express lose their match by a sizeable margin.
The Ariels also recorded a big win, defeating the Sovereigns 71-48. While the Express, Falcons and Cougars all registered single-digit victories against the Saints, Lightning and Storm respectively.
In the 19/Under division, the Cougars made it 16 victories for the season with a 23-goal win against the Storm.
The Blaze and Falcons also recorded double-digit wins against the Waves and Lightning respectively. The Saints and the Sovereigns were the other triumphant teams.
The final round of the VNL home and away season will take place at the SHNC on Wednesday 3 August from 7pm.
VNL Round 17 Results
Geelong Cougars 56 def 49 Monash University Storm
Boroondara Express 62 def 50 Wilson Storage Southern Saints
Yarra Valley Grammar Ariels 53 def 48 ACU Sovereigns
City West Falcons 48 def 47 Melbourne University Lightning
DC North East Blaze 61 def 43 Peninsula Waves
Yarra Valley Grammar Ariels 71 def 48 ACU Sovereigns
Boroondara Express 61 def 54 Wilson Storage Southern Saints
City West Falcons 49 def 40 Melbourne University Lightning
Peninsula Waves 51 def 39 DC North East Blaze
Geelong Cougars 48 def 43 Monash University Storm
DC North East Blaze 62 def 32 Peninsula Waves
City West Falcons 43 def 29 Melbourne University Lightning
Geelong Cougars 61 def 38 Monash University Storm
Wilson Storage Southern Saints 43 def 35 Boroondara Express
ACU Sovereigns 54 def 47 Yarra Valley Grammar Ariels
For the latest VNL news, results and statistics visit vnl.com.au