THREE of the top four teams survived torrid tests in Round 15 of the Victorian Netball League.
Southern Saints clung onto fourth place after withstanding a first-half barrage from DC North East Blaze.
Blaze goalers Simon Nalder (19 goals from 23 attempts) and Stacey Gannon (18 from 23) nailed a perfect 14 from 14 in the second quarter to help their team take a five-goal lead into half-time. But Saints hit back in the third as Blaze went cold, flipping the scoreline to lead by four and riding goal attack Teagan Collins’ 23-from-28 shooting performance to a 49-44 win.
Saints remain in fourth place, one game clear of Yarra Valley Grammar Ariels, who had a resounding 43-goal win against Fed Uni Ballarat Pride.
A ruthless Ariels defensive performance from Leah Reilly, Lauren Close and Kaitlyn Black restricted Pride to just eight first-half goals and at one point saw Ariels score more than 20 goals in a row as they took a 39-8 lead at the long break.
Pride found their feet again in the second half but couldn’t undo the damage, with Ariels more than compensating for the absence of injured wing attack Kelsey Browne and adding another 32 goals in the second half to coast to a 71-28 result – their biggest score of the season.
Peninsula Waves overcame a deadly accurate Geelong Cougars outfit to hang onto outright third spot on the ladder.
Cougars goalers Kim Martin and Olivia Cameron netted 52 goals from 56 attempts between them as they turned a seven-goal quarter-time deficit into a 42-41 lead at three-quarter time. But Waves turned the game back in their favour in the final 15 minutes, restricting Geelong to just 11 attempts and overhauling them, 54-52.
League leaders City West Falcons struggled to shake Monash University Storm, who kept coming in the second half before Falcons re-established order late in the game.
Falcons led 10-1 early in the first quarter and looked like skipping away numerous times but Monash wouldn’t lie down and got within a handful of goals in both the third and fourth quarters. Falcons’ superiority shone in the tight moments and allowed them to ease out to a 57-49 win.
Boroondara Genesis put VU Western Lightning’s late finals charge on ice with an easy 66-39 win on Court 3.
Genesis again welcomed Melbourne Vixens Joanna Weston and Erin Hoare back into their line-up and had the luxury of keeping Hoare (29 from 35) on the bench until half-time as they opened up a 31-13 lead.
The loss left Lightning in seventh place and a game and a half outside the top four with just three games remaining, while Genesis wrapped up second spot with their fourth win in a row.
IT took 15 rounds, but someone finally knocked off City West Falcons’ Division 1 team.
Monash University Storm did what no other team has been able to do and downed Falcons 52-45 in a fiercely contested match that won’t alter the Division 1 finals make-up but will give hope to the other teams in contention.
Storm led by two goals at half-time and 39-38 at three-quarter time before Falcons tinkered with their line-up in the last quarter, moving goal keeper Georgia Berry into goal shooter. But their scoring opportunities dried up and Storm kicked clear to secure a memorable 52-45 win.
Peninsula Waves threw fuel on the fourth-place fire by beating Geelong Cougars 48-43 in a result that left both teams locked on eight wins.
Waves found a way to restrict prolific Cougars shooter Ruby Horton to just 26 goals from 29 attempts, while their own target Megan Rosser had one of her best performances of the year with 35 from 36. Waves trailed 19-20 at half-time but wrestled the lead away to lead 34-30 in the third before prevailing in a high-scoring final term.
Boroondara Genesis quietly chalked up their fourth win in a row – a solid 47-38 score against VU Western Lightning – to all but guarantee a finals spot.
Genesis led by just three goals at quarter-time and half-time but established a winning lead in a 13-7 third quarter, with goal attack Sarah Yule (31 from 33) draining more than 30 goals for a fourth consecutive week.
Yarra Valley Grammar Ariels are still holding out hope of back-to-back finals appearances after beating Fed Uni Ballarat Pride 47-41.
The third quarter was the difference between the two sides, with Ariels building a one-goal half-time lead into a 37-30 advantage, courtesy of some staunch defensive work from Jamie Clark and Australian 19 and Under squad member Kate Eddy.
Southern Saints got the job done early and then put the cue in the rack against DC North East Blaze.
Saints led 13-5 at quarter-time and extended their edge to 11 at three-quarter time, before Blaze made a late run to go down 46-40. Saints goal shooter Chloe Curran again proved a formidable target with 31 goals from 34 attempts.
19 AND UNDER:
THE top of the table 19 and Under clash between Monash University Storm and City West Falcons more than lived up to its billing, with Storm winning a seesawing thriller by just one goal.
Falcons grabbed the early ascendancy but Storm charged away in the second quarter to lead 29-23, before a 14-9 third quarter had City West trailing by one goal at three-quarter time.
Both teams had their opportunities and Falcons could have tied the scores inside the final minute, but an errant long pass into their attacking third was picked off and allowed Storm to maintain possession – and their 50-49 advantage – until the clock ran out.
Geelong Cougars remain in contention for a finals double chance after a 10-goal win against Peninsula Waves.
Cougars were desperate to end a three-game losing streak and turned in a solid performance, increasing their lead marginally each quarter to secure their 52-42 result. Jaclyn Lang led the scoring for Geelong with 33 goals from 38 attempts, while Gabrielle Dwyer scored 28 from 31 for Waves.
Yarra Valley Grammar Ariels stayed in the finals hunt with a hard-fought 50-45 win over bottom-placed Fed Uni Ballarat Pride.
Ariels looked like blowing the game open several times but never grew their margin beyond six goals, with Pride enjoying a quick-fire run at the end of the third quarter to trail 36-34. But Ariels again found a path to goal shooter Rachel Smart (18 from 22) in the final quarter to pull away in the dying minutes.
Southern Saints hung onto fourth spot on the 19 and Under ladder after an easy 57-37 win over DC North East Blaze.
Saints charged away in the second quarter to lead 31-17 at half-time and continued their heavy scoring in the second half, with goal shooter Madeline McNab cracking the 40-goal barrier with 41 from 49.
VU Western Lighting were pushed every inch of the way by Boroondara Genesis but were too good in the final quarter in a win that ensured they remain only percentage points outside the top four.
Genesis trailed by three goals at both half-time and three-quarter time, but with Lightning goal attack Kailah-Mae Keepen shooting 11 of her 29 goals in the final quarter, Lightning did enough to wrap up a 40-33 victory.