Victorian Netball League: Round 18 Wrap

Due to a roof leak above Court 1 of the State Netball & Hockey Centre, both Championship and Division 1 matches involving Melbourne University Lightning and Monash University Storm were abandoned for safety reasons. In both cases, the official result will stand at five goals apiece, with both sides receiving two premiership points for a draw.

The Yarra Valley Grammar Ariels and Geelong Cougars Championship Round 18 match is set to be played as a curtain-raiser to the Melbourne Vixens-NSW Swifts ANZ Championship match at Margaret Court Arena this Sunday at 11.42am.

 VNL 17-03-2015Netball Victoria VNL FinalPhoto: Grant Treeby

Championship

The Wilson Storage Southern Saints will take great confidence into the finals series with a thumping 72-40 win over the ACU Sovereigns.

The Saints were clinical and consistent over the whole four quarters, constructed Elizabeth Nicol’s 39 goals from 41 attempts and strong defence led by Kirsten Daley and Cecilia Faalili.

Boroondara Express had the ideal tune-up game a week out from finals with a convincing 51-33 win over Peninsula Waves.

As the Express gear up for their major semi-final next week against the Falcons, the Waves ran into a defensively sound Express outfit, who were helped with the Waves’ 61 per cent shooting accuracy. The Express started strongly, jumping to a 10-goal lead with all Boroondara goalers getting in on the act.

A gritty second half saw the City West Falcons avoid a final-hurdle hiccup, overcoming DC North East Blaze 59-53.

In a physical, high-scoring match, the Blaze led by just a single goal at the main break after 61 goals were sunk in the first half. With Molly Jovic taking charge in the second half through the centre court, the Falcons skipped away in the third quarter scoring 17-goals-to-nine before holding off a fast-finishing Blaze for the win. The Falcons also became the only side to score 1000 goals for the home-and-away season.

Finals Week 1

Major Semi Final: City West Falcons (1st, 16-1-1, 139.1%) vs Boroondara Express (2nd, 14-3-1, 116.1%)

Minor Semi Final: Wilson Storage Southern Saints (3rd, 10-6-2, 108.2%) vs DC North East Blaze (4th, 9-8-1, 102.7%)

 

Division 1

Much like their Championship counterparts, the Division 1 Saints will take a heap of confidence into their minor-semi final after a strong 70-41 win over the Sovereigns.

Led as always by Chloe Curran (28 from 31) on the front end, able supporter from fellow shooters Georgia Cuthbertson (18 from 19) and Alex Maher (17 from 19), the Saints quick ball movement cut through the Sovereigns defence, piling on two even 35-goal halves.

The Cougars survived a final-round scare to prevail 47-46 over the Ariels.

After a breakout third term that saw the Cougars look all but home with a nine-goal lead at the final change, the Ariels defensive unit led by Michelle Williams and Ashlea Hyatt pressured the Cougars into uncharacteristic errors. The one-goal margin proved its weight in gold for the entirety of the final minute, as both sides traded possession, before the final whistle – and Geelong – beat the Ariels.

The Express gave the Waves a required lesson before the finals, with a scrappy 35-32 win.

Cruelled by injury in the latter part of the season, the Waves have lost their last two matches heading into finals, while the Express have lost their last four. The Express led from woe-to-go as both sides struggled to find consistency in the shooting circle. It would prove to be weight of shots that would eventually see the Express prevail and cement their place in a major semi-final.

In one of the biggest upsets of the year, the Blaze spoiled the Falcons’ party with a 47-45 win, in turn ruining the Falcons’ perfect home-and-away record.

On paper, many expected the Falcons to register their 18th win from as many matches, but it was the Blaze who jumped out of the blocks and clung on for a memorable win. Hurt by absences, the Falcons’ and Mandy Hanegraaf’s 33 goals from 37 attempts wasn’t enough to overcome a spirited Blaze outfit.

Finals Week 1:

Major Semi Final: City West Falcons (1st, 17-1, 152.2%) vs Boroondara Express (2nd, 14-4, 129.6%)

Minor Semi Final: Wilson Storage Southern Saints (3rd, 13-5, 118%) vs Peninsula Waves (4th, 11-6-1, 110.8%)

 

19 & Under

The Storm finished their season on a high, with the reigning champions defeating the Lightning 47-38.

After a tight first quarter, the Storm came out all guns blazing through the second and third terms, with their competitiveness led by defenders Kaela Hughes and Matilda Garrett pressuring the Lightning into errors. The Storm, despite a nervy few minutes in the final term, cruised home for the win.

In a dress rehearsal for next week’s minor semi-final, it was the Sovereigns who emerged victorious and take the confidence into next week after a 55-49 win.

Considering this a tune-up to next week’s elimination match in just seven days time, the Sovereigns were able to nullify the Saints attack, despite Madeline McNab’s 43 goals from 51 attempts. A strong first half with both Sovereigns goalers Sacha McDonald (29 from 35) and Abbey Ryan (26 from 36) providing a strong platform for the win.

The Cougars constructed a brave comeback to claim the 19 & under minor premiership, with a tense 46-45 win over the Ariels.

After a strong first term, the Cougars were pressured into mistakes, while the Ariels took full advantage to lead by three goals at three quarter time. With the home-and-away season bragging rights on offer, the Cougars emerged from the final break to quickly eradicate the deficit before holding in a tight final five minutes for the all important four premiership points.

Led by Gabrielle Dwyer’s 40 goals from 49 attempts, the Waves finished their season strongly with a 49-39 win over the Express.

Recording their fifth win of the season, Dwyer well serviced by wing attack Annie Buntine, while the Waves’ defence consistently disrupted the Express’ attack for the solid 10-goal win.

The Falcons were nearly taught a final-round lesson, holding on for an important 43-42 win.

As they had throughout the year, Falcons shooting pair Amelia Brock (22 from 25) and Bridget O’Halloran (21 from 25) guided the ladder-leaders home with some nerveless second-half shooting, after the Blaze played almost the ideal first half, only to be overran after leading at the main break.

Finals Week 1

Major Semi Final: Geelong Cougars (1st, 16-2, 121.5%) vs City West Falcons (2nd, 15-3, 132.3%)

Minor Semi Final: Wilson Storage Southern Saints (3rd, 12-5-1, 116%) vs ACU Sovereigns (4th, 11-5-2, 110.1%)