VNL Wrap – Round 14

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CHAMPIONSHIP

VU Western Lightning have won two games in a row for the first time since Round 4 to keep their finals dreams alive in the Victorian Netball League’s Championship division.

Lightning beat Fed Uni Ballarat Pride 52-33 in Round 14, riding a 32-goal from 39-attempt shooting performance from goal attack Kate Thompson to stay within half a game of the top four.

Pride’s coaches said the height of Lightning defenders Madeline Stewart, Sanonu Robertson and Kate Burton proved too much for their goalers to handle.

“Cassie Peace and Johanna Dash turned the ball over often enough to give the attackers a real chance. The overall height in the circle worried Pride’s goalers, however, and … (they) could not convert enough goals to close the margin,” they said.

Two separate DC North East Blaze surges cost Yarra Valley Grammar Ariels the chance to consolidate their spot in the top four.

Ariels led 14-10 early in the second quarter, but after Blaze called on their former goal shooter Melissa McCauley for her first game of the season as a stand-in for regular target Simone Nalder, Blaze rattled off 11 goals in a row on the way to a 21-17 half-time lead.

Neither team could establish a match-winning advantage and the scores were again tied early in the last quarter as both sides went goal for goal. But at 38-38 Blaze’s defensive end, led by Micaela Wilson, shut up shop and didn’t allow another goal, while their goalers piled on seven in a row at the other end to run out 45-38 winners.

Southern Saints secured their fourth win in five matches – this time a 54-45 result against Peninsula Waves – to move into the top four.

Saints led by two goals at half-time and with goal shooter Elizabeth Nicol (37 from 38) and goal attack Teagan Collins (17 from 17) missing only one goal between them for the match, their scoring pressure eventually told in a 16-9 third quarter that set up the victory.

Goaling accuracy was also the story in second-placed Boroondara Genesis’ 11-goal win over Monash University Central.

Genesis had just one more shooting attempt than Central, but with Melbourne Vixens member Erin Hoare netting 40 from 46 and partner Ashlee Howard missing just one of her 15 attempts, their team opened up a 34-23 lead at half-time.

Storm swung four changes in the second half but couldn’t catch up, thanks in part to match MVP Joanna Weston, who controlled proceedings at Genesis’ defensive end and helped her team win 60-49.

City West Falcons topped 70 goals for the second week in a row, trouncing Geelong Cougars 72 to 45.

Cougars limited the damage to a 12-16 deficit at quarter-time but couldn’t contain Falcons’ much-vaunted attacking end after half-time, conceding 20 goals in both the third and fourth quarters as goal attack Alice Teague-Neeld took the three votes for her 29 goals from 31 attempts.

 

DIVISION ONE

GEELONG Cougars had their four-game winning streak shattered by City West Falcons, who remain undefeated after winning 61-41 in Division 1.

Falcons restricted the supply to Cougars goal shooter Ruby Horton (33 from 39), while their own versatile target Andrea Tai had a best-on-court performance with 35 from 40 at the other end.

They led by nine goals at quarter-time and half-time but stacked on 17 goals to nine in the final quarter as they moved a step closer to sealing the minor premiership.

A dominant performance from defensive pair Ashleigh Hardy and Cecliia Failili allowed Southern Saints to coast to a 52-29 win over Peninsula Waves.

Waves were held to just 12 goals in the second half, while Saints shooter Chloe Curran nailed 40 of her 47 attempts.

Yarra Valley Grammar Ariels kept their slim finals chances alive with a 43-35 win against DC North East Blaze.

Blaze hung within two goals at every change, but with Ariels wing attack and match MVP Kate Fletcher continuing to help find Rachel King (34 from 41) under the post, Ariels drained a perfect 12 from 12 in the last quarter to push clear.

VU Western Lightning ended a lean month of netball by beating Fed Uni Ballarat Pride 51-32 after overcoming some early Pride resistance. They led 10-9 at quarter-time before opening the throttle to lead by eight at the long break.

Pride’s coaches praised the effort of Madison Davis at wing defence and goal defence, but said it wasn’t enough to keep Lightning at bay.

Boroondara Genesis almost certainly ended Monash University Storm’s finals aspirations with a 54-41 win on Court 3.

Genesis rocked Storm early, taking a 16-6 lead at quarter-time and never looking back as they maintained a winning edge throughout, with Gretta Hankinson taking the three votes for her game at goal defence.

 

19 AND UNDER

DC North East Blaze erased a six-goal margin in the final quarter to steal a draw against Yarra Valley Grammar Ariels in the 19 and Under division.

Ariels led at every break but couldn’t shake their opponents, leading by just four goals at three-quarter time. Blaze made their move with five minutes left in the game, reducing the margin to just two, and when Ariels turned the ball over inside the last minute Blaze were able to score the next two goals and tie the game.

Ariels had few answers for Blaze goaler Tahnysha Salanoa, who was named best on court after netting 34 goals from 40 attempts, while her opposing number Rachel Smart put her team in a winning position with 34 from 41.

Geelong Cougars have slipped from top spot to third in three weeks, after dropping a third match in a row, this time a 50-39 loss to City West Falcons.

Cougars kept it tight until three-quarter time, when Falcons’ four-goal lead quickly blew out to carry them to a sixth win on the trot.

Fed Uni Ballarat Pride looked set to drive a wedge between VU Western Lightning and the top four sides when the underdogs led 18-17 at half-time of their match on Court 4.

But Lightning responded with 26 goals to 14 in the second half to keep themselves only percentage points outside a finals berth. Goal attack Kailah-Mae Keepen won the umpires over with her 17 goals from 20 attempts, while Taylah Keogh controlled the centre court.

Pride’s coaches highlighted fitness as an issue after their fast start faded, but were impressed with development player Lauren Jew, who shot seven from seven early in the match.

Monash University Storm set up a 53-42 win over Boroondara Genesis with a typically ruthless first quarter.

Storm romped to a 17-9 lead that they never relinquished, with Genesis now certain to miss finals after reaching the preliminary final last year. Hannah Flanders was awarded the three votes after shooting 22 goals from 30 attempts and also swinging into wing attack.

Southern Saints scored back-to-back wins for the first time since Round 8, downing Peninsula Waves with ease, 61-37.

Saints provided their goalers with a whopping 81 attempts, with goal shooter Madeline McNab having the lion’s share of them and netting 48 from 63.

Waves were missing main goaler Mandy Hanegraaf, who was on Australian 17/U duties in Canberra, and couldn’t keep pace with Saints, who topped 30 goals in each half. Saints coach Jacqui Toy said 14-year-old centre Kate Kelly-Oman was again the lynchpin in her team’s performance, just days after being named in the Victorian 15 and Under schoolgirls’ team.

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