CITY West Falcons are just one win away from a grand final victory and a perfect season in the Victorian Netball League’s Championship division.
Falcons overcame an early stumble to easily account for Boroondara Genesis in the VNL major semi-final, beating Genesis 58-42 to move into the season decider.
But not for the first time this season Falcons were doing the chasing early, after Boroondara took a 14-10 lead in the first quarter.
The defending champions had erased the gap before half-time, however, with goaling sister act Kathleen Knott (33 goals from 35 attempts) and Julia Woolley (seven from eight), shooting a perfect 15 from 15 for the quarter to help their team to a 25-23 lead.
The second half was all City West as they netted 33 goals to just 19 to romp into their fifth grand final in six years.
Genesis may welcome back Melbourne Vixens players Erin Hoare and Joanna Weston next week, though they will have a tough time of it against Southern Saints, who are flying high after demolishing Peninsula Waves in the minor semi-final and chalking up their seventh win in a row.
The result was virtually in the book by half-time, with Saints turning a 16-10 quarter-time edge into a 34-17 lead. Waves managed just 13 more goals after half-time, while Saints piled on another 28 to seal it.
Elizabeth Nicol was a dominant force under the post for Saints, shooting 40 goals from 44 attempts, while young goal attack Rahni Samason chimed in with 17 from 21.
Genesis and Saints split their two contests this year, with Boroondara winning the first by 10 goals in Round 4, before Saints found the answers just two weeks ago in Round 17 and won by five.
Boroondara Genesis vs Southern Saints – Court 1, 8.20pm
DEFENDING Victorian Netball League Division 1 champions Boroondara Genesis are out of the race for this year’s title after losing a thrilling knockout semi-final against Geelong Cougars.
Genesis’ shaky end of season form that saw them lose two of their last three games again reared its head as they gave up a slim three-quarter time lead to go down by three goals, 49-46.
Cougars looked the likely winners in the first quarter, racing to a 17-7 lead, but Genesis swung important changes in the second, bringing Tamara Luke into the game at goal defence and young goaler Jessica McNamara at goal attack.
The moves paid off as Genesis closed to within a goal at the long break before hitting the front in the third quarter and leading 36-34 with 15 minutes to play.
But Geelong’s goalers had ice in their veins with the game in the balance. Tall target Ruby Horton (37 from 40) and Simon Hickman (12 from 15) sunk a perfect 15 from 15 in the final quarter to capture a memorable victory and put them within one win of the club’s first ever grand final appearance.
Standing in the way of that achievement are Southern Saints, who were found wanting in the second half of the major semi-final against City West Falcons.
Saints overcame a slow start, in which they trailed 13-6, to shave the margin to four at half-time.
But with Falcons goalers Darcy Saunders and Andrea Tai both firing at above 90 per cent accuracy, including a combined 27 goals from 28 attempts in the second half, the pressure told as Saints faded to an eight-goal deficit at three-quarter time and nine at game’s end.
They’ll be confident of a better result next week, however, having beaten Cougars by 18 goals in Round 1, and two goals the last time they met in Round 9.
Southern Saints vs Geelong Cougars – Court 1, 9.40pm
19 AND UNDER
IF City West Falcons want a sixth consecutive Victorian Netball League 19 and Under title they’ll have to do it the hard way after Monash University Storm won their major semi-final clash.
Storm, the minor premiers, beat Falcons for the third time this season to move straight into the grand final, setting up the 41-37 win with a decisively dominant opening quarter.
Storm fired at both ends from the moment the first whistle went, providing plenty of opportunities for goalers Natalie Billings (29 goals from 33 attempts) and Hannah Flanders (11 from 18), while keeping Falcons shooters Kayla Mallett (two from three) and Bridget O’Halloran (10 from 14) to just six attempts and four goals for the quarter.
They opened up a 12-4 lead by quarter-time, but Falcons slowly crept back into the game after introducing Amelia Brock (25 from 29) at goal shooter in the second quarter and reducing the margin to five goals at half-time and just two at the last change.
But Storm were able to steady, scoring 10 goals to eight in the final quarter to secure just their second 19 and Under grand final berth, having lost to Falcons in the 2011 decider.
Falcons will now face Geelong Cougars in the preliminary final, after Cougars won a tight contest against Southern Saints.
Saints played their best quarter first, scoring 13 goals to 12 to grab the early advantage, but Cougars held them to just six goals in the second quarter to snatch a 20-19 half-time lead.
Geelong made the third quarter their own, creating a mountain of chances for goalers Mary Waldron (26 from 32) and Allie Smith (12 from 18) as they turned their one-goal lead into seven, a margin they held through to the final whistle.
Cougars will now be chasing the club’s first 19 and Under grand final appearance, having been knocked out in the semi-finals last year.