Boroondara Express may have found a chink in the City West Falcons’ armour, but ultimately it was the minor premiers who would advance to the VNL Grand Final.
Roaring to an early lead in the first quarter and never letting the margin slip below six goals, it would seem the Falcons would cruise to victory, with many expecting the best team in the competition to do what they had done to teams all year.
But to the Express’ credit, the guillotine never came down, as the Express pushed the deficit back to one goal midway the final term.
Kate McLeod was excellent as the Express mounted their comeback charge in the last stanza, the defender displaying excellent anticipation both in and around the defensive circle as well as creating playing from the defensive third.
The defensive pressure worried normally nerveless Falcons goalers Kathleen Knott (33 from 36) and Stephanie Tyrell (19 from 25) into uncharacteristic misses, the Falcons goaling just seven times from 13 attempts in the final term.
Time would prove to be the enemy, as the Falcons held on and will await the winner of the preliminary final between the Express and the Wilson Storage Southern Saints, who terminated the season of DC North East Blaze 47-43.
In a similarly tight contest to the major semi final, the Saints’ four-goal lead they established last in the third quarter heading into three quarter time, proved to be match defining.
Both teams matched each other for goals and errors, with the Saints and Blaze’s defensive pressure allowing both teams’ little fluency to their attacking game.
The Saints however would be able to hold the slenderest of leads, by one (quarter time) and two goals (half time) at the breaks.
Mid-courters Sarah Wolff and Leah Percy were excellent, their positional switch between centre and wing attack providing crucial final-quarter stability.
Elizabeth Nicol continued her good form under the net with 35 goals from 39 attempts.
The Championship Preliminary final will be played on Wednesday at the State Netball and Hockey Centre at 8.20pm.
The Division 1 Falcons took care of business to ensure all three City West sides went straight through to Grand Finals in Week 1, with a runaway 44-37 win over Boorondara Express.
The Falcons were able to power on a 12-8 final quarter after being unable to shake a persistent a Express side.
The Express themselves will want to clean up their shooting; their front line goalers Ella Bertacchini (25 from 38) and Shannon Gray (six from nine) nailing just 70 per cent of their shots put up.
With scores level at 22 apiece at the main break and the match petering out as a proverbial tug of war, it took the Falcons to pounce on a late Express error to force a three-goal final change lead that proved to be the straw that broke the camels back.
Jane Cook was again efficient with 30 goals from 32 attempts, while captain Toni Lind was instrumental from wing attack.
Like their Championship counterparts, the Express will meet the Wilson Storage Southern Saints, following a comfortable 58-47 lead.
The Saints lead at every change after jumping to a four-goal lead at quarter time.
Despite the Waves’ – in their first Division 1 finals appearance in recent years – best efforts, the Saints margin was always safe, extending it to five at the final change.
A 19-goal-to-13 final quarter snuffed out any hope of a Waves revival, as the Saints ran away fro the win.
Saints goaler Chloe Curran sent an ominous warning to her future opponents with a dominating 42 goals from 48 attempts shooting performance.
The Division 1 Preliminary Final will commence at 7pm.