A DRAW and a one-goal thriller headlined an epic round of matches that did little to separate the contenders in the Victorian Netball League’s Championship division.
DC North East Blaze’s bid to challenge for a top four position will have to wait another week after VU Western Lightning chased them down and snatched a 45-45 draw.
Lightning, seeking their first win in five rounds, trailed at every break except for the one that mattered, overhauling a three-goal final-quarter deficit to take two premiership points, with Blaze wing attack Bronwyn Taylor named best on court for the second week in a row.
The battle for third place on the ladder between Yarra Valley Grammar Ariels and Peninsula Waves looked like falling Ariels’ way until a second-half fightback saw Waves claw their way to a one-goal win.
A potential fourth consecutive victory dangled enticingly in front of Ariels, and they looked like seizing it after taking an 11-goal lead at half-time and maintaining a six-goal advantage at the last change.
But Waves continued to dial up the pressure in the fourth quarter and the result was assured when wing defence Jess Cox grabbed an intercept in the final minute to cap a remarkable win.
Waves coach Jessica Whitfort lauded vice-captain Holly-Anne Hood, who entered the game at centre at quarter-time and teamed with fellow midcourters Sarah Hosking and Jade Finn to help turn the game.
“(It was a) really good win that displayed a whole new level of maturity and fight we’ve never displayed before,” Whitfort said.
Southern Saints got closer to City West Falcons than any other side, but it still wasn’t enough to topple the undefeated ladder leaders.
Falcons enjoyed a 30-17 lead by half-time before Saints began slowly chipping away at the margin and cut it to single figures in the last quarter.
But with Falcons goalers Kathleen Knott (17 shots from 18 attempts), Alice Teage-Neeld (21 from 23) and Julia Woolley (13 from 15) shooting at a combined 92 per cent, the task was too great for Saints, who remain one win outside the top four heading into this weekend’s round of home games.
Boroondara Genesis were ruthless at both ends of the court in a 39-goal win over Fed Uni Ballarat Pride.
Genesis improved in every quarter, scoring 15 in the first, 16 in the second, 17 in the third and 21 in the fourth in a 69-30 result that ensured they remained two games clear of third-placed Waves.
Melbourne Vixens goal defence Joanna Weston and goaler Erin Hoare (35 from 29) featured in the umpires’ votes, while Pride’s coaches admitted they were almost powerless to stop the Genesis talls.
“The Pride defence could not have done much more in pressuring their opposition but the six-foot five and six-foot eight goaling combination made it impossible to get to high balls,” they said.
Monash University Storm put the brakes on Geelong Cougars’ mid-season upswing with a tight 58-53 win, set up by an 18-11 first quarter.
Stacey Northey (40 from 50) did the bulk of the shooting for Storm, who now join Ariels in equal fourth place on six wins.
THE top-of-the-table Division 1 clash between City West Falcons and Southern Saints was an arm wrestle from start to finish in Round 12, with Falcons finding an extra gear to post their tenth win of the season.
Saints cut a six-goal gap to just four at half-time before Falcons kicked again, extending their lead to record a 52-42 victory, with newly-named Victorian Flames goaler Andrea Tai getting the nod from the umpires for her 29 goals from 32 attempts.
Peninsula Waves emulated their Championship counterparts in conjuring a nerve-wracking come-from-behind win over Yarra Valley Grammar Ariels.
No more than two goals separated the teams at any of the breaks, with Ariels turning a 19-21 half- time defecit into a one-goal lead heading into the last quarter.
But Waves found more avenues to goal in the final quarter, with wing attack and match MVP Sara Duncan continuing to pick out Rebecca Dixon (18 from 26) and Bianca Sanzaro (nine from 15) as they edged clear to win 39-37.
One bad quarter cost bottom-placed Fed Uni Ballarat Pride against Boroondara Genesis.
Pride put up some stern resistance against the top-four side, winning two out of four quarters and keeping the match square at 24-24 at half-time, but a 5-15 third quarter saw Genesis take an unassailable lead and roll on to a 49-41 victory.
Geelong Cougars put some breathing space between themelves and Monash University Storm on the Division 1 table and chalked up a third win in a row.
Monash hung in for the first quarter but Cougars exploded in the second, peeling off 19 goals to seven as goal shooter Ruby Horton (39 from 43) again had a day out. Geelong centre Sarah Breen was awarded the three votes, with her team running out 57-42 winners.
DC North East Blaze put together one of their best games of the season to upset VU Western Lightning 49-37.
Blaze led by a narrow margin for most of the game – and just one goal at three-quarter time – before rocketing clear with an 18-7 final quarter.
Goal attack Skye McDonald netted 37 goals from 45 attempts for Blaze, but it was wing attack Samantha Coppinger and defensive duo Beth Chiuchiarelli and Nikki Phillips who snapped up the MVP votes.
19 AND UNDER
GEELONG Cougar’s five-match winning streak in VNL’s 19 and Under division is over after second-placed Monash University Storm prevailed in their hotly contested top-two battle.
Down 22-19 at half-time, Monash responded with vigour in the third quarter, scoring 17 goals to nine to take a five-goal lead that they maintained to the end, winning 47-41
Geelong’s Tahlia Jeffreys picked up best on court honours, while Monash wing attack Melissa Perez provided plenty of opportunities for goal shooter Natalie Billings (37 from 48).
DC North East Blaze provided the VNL upset of the round, ending VU Western Lightning’s five-match winning streak and preventing them from reaching the top four.
Lightning had a small lead in each quarter but wilted late in the game, coughing up 12 goals to six to go down 40-35, with Blaze’s Tahnysha Salanoa (25 from 31) and Jackie Cullimore (seven from seven) hitting every one of their 12 attempts in the final quarter.
Yarra Valley Grammar Ariels moved back into the top four after a hard-fought 53-45 win against Peninsula Waves.
The teams couldn’t be separated in the first half – tied at 13-13 at quarter-time and 24-24 at half- time – but a series of intercepts from Ariels goal defence Madeleine Toohey in the third quarter sparked her team to a match-winning 18-7 third quarter.
Opposing goal shooters Samantha Gooden (37 from 43) and Mandy Hanegraaf (30 from 34) shone under the post, while Alexandra Joyce was solid through the middle for the winners.
Keeping a top-four spot was the prize when City West Falcons took on Southern Saints, with Falcons doing enough to secure the four points and consign Saints to a third loss in four weeks.
Falcons led by just three goals at half-time but their advantage swelled to 10 in the third quarter after bringing Amelia Brock (10 from 11) into goal attack. Saints made a late bid to catch up but fell short, 41-37.
Boroondara Genesis kept their faint finals hopes alive after surviving a severe fright against Fed Uni Ballarat Pride.
Pride got the jump on Genesis in the first half, leading by two goals at quarter-time, one at half-time and trailing by just two at the final change, before Boroondara clicked and rattled off 13 goals to eight to seal a 45-38 win.
Young goal shooter Danielle Phillips (33 from 43) had her best game for Genesis and took home the three votes.