After months of fiercely fought netball, the eight teams to play in the 2019 MLeague Grand Final have been decided. With favorites looking to add to their premiership collections and rivals on their tails, anything could happen next week!
Semi Finals proved the strongest teams from each division last night. In an interesting outcome, every division will see teams who finished first and second on their ladders play off for the gold.
Make sure to head to the State Netball and Hockey Centre next week to experience these Grand Final matches close up from 7pm onwards!
MLeague Grand Final Matches:
Geelong Cougars v. St Therese
Men’s Division One
Northern Titans v. DDNA Teal
Parkville Panthers v. Geelong Cougars
Mixed Division One
Fitzroy Phoenix v. Ariels Mixed
The Blackhawks were in for a mammoth match as they took on the top-ranked Geelong Cougars, having come off second best both times they took the court this season. Geelong had been premiership favorites all season, and their credibility would be put to the test with one chance for a Grand Final spot.
The match started with a Geelong centre pass that was turned over by Blackhawks’ Tim Marshall. This alluded to the close contested first quarter spectators would witness. It was quickly noticed that a key member was missing from the Blackhawks roster in Matt Doyle. It was later revealed he had injured his knee earlier in the day and was unable to run his usual Wing Attack position. This loss resulted in Blackhawks missing an important link in their attack, however they held their own in the first quarter with Joel Gosbell and Lachlan Deane standing strong in attack.
The first quarter saw Geelong bring the ferocity we’ve seen all season. Their attack end was electrifying with Matt Blomeley and Jed Chrstian swinging the ball across the circle with definite speed. This confused Blackhawk’s defenders and allowed them to use a variety of passes to be received by Cam Allum and Brayden Pastore. As per usual, the dynamic goaling duo remained composed under the pressure and secure needed goals.
Blackhawks, only down by four goals at the end of the first break, played a slow second and third quarter to see them drop behind Cougars. Basic fumbles in the goal third and fraught transitions presented Cougars with the opportunity they needed to capitalise and convert. There was still hope for Blackhawks though, Joel Gosbell winning plenty of contest and creating opportunities for his team.
With Geelong leading by eight goals entering the final quarter, Blackhawks played a striking final fifteen minutes in what seemed like a possible comeback. David Chisolm shot with versatility of range which highlighted his confidence of play. A whole team effort brought Blackhawks within three goals of Geelong. However, as time ticked on Geelong shot several goals to give them back a decent lead just as Blackhawks began to fatigue.
In the final quarter it came down to consistency in every third, which Cougars prevailed in. We will see them try and defend their premiership title next week.
Sirens were on the hunt to go one better than the last time they played St Therese only two weeks back, especially after some low form in recent weeks. This resulted in a match of the fast and the furious.
From the first centre, the crowd and everyone watching knew it would be heated. While St Therese took the first centre, it was Sirens who shot the first goal. The player match ups on court were epic, Dylan Nexhip on Josh Smith, Guy Keane versing Tory Allen, even Riley Richardson on Brodie Roberts for some of the match.
A tight contest in the first quarter couldn’t split the two, only three goals the difference. With Sirens holding the lead at the end of the first break, St Therese flipped this in the second quarter to barely sit on top by two goals.
Each play was closely contested, players stuck on their opponents with urgency and the array of midcourt deflections and stoppages highlighted the players’ ability to switch between attack and defence. This speed and determination in the midcourt resulted in a collision involving Siren’s centre Luke Hunter. Winded and down, Sirens required a roster shake up which saw usual goaler, Brodie Roberts, take charge in Centre. This resulted in an epic battle between the two forces.
This change of player positions seemed to shake Sirens more than expected however, which led to a slow third quarter. Heading into the fourth quarter it looked as though St Therese had the win, up by 11 goals, that is until the true intensity we know from Sirens came into play. The ferocity at each goal end hit their peak, Sirens trying to secure every goal they could to make up the difference and ST Therese trying to hold the lead they had worked to attain. Despite Sirens attack end elevating their performance, St Therese’s pressure limited the goals from Sirens and it was too little too late for Sirens.
St Therese finished strong to extend their margin, a final victory of 15 goals. They will face Geelong Cougars in the Grand Final.
Valley Wolves had their work cut out for them coming up against the undefeated Panthers. Unfortunately for them, hope wouldn’t be enough to break Panthers dominance.
Panthers first quarter blitz set up an easy win to see them progress through to the Grand Final. Wolves had no sing of a defeatist attitude though, coming back from a 6-1 deficit to finish the final quarter on eight goals.
Elle McDonald and Riley Richardson directed their teams’ ball movements as the play will force, while Corey Nexhip, Uneeq Palavi, Brodie Roberts and Amy Starzer shared the consistent goaling load that resulted in Panthers triumphant win.
With Panthers leading the way at half time, 34-14, Wolves intensity didn’t drop and they kept their pace and played to the best of their ability. Jason Heard had a charging third quarter in Centre to connect well with Hannah Kuhar in goals.
As the match came to end, Panthers enjoyed their win while Wolves had fun as a team to conclude their season.
FORFEIT – Geelong Cougars through to Grand Final
Men’s Division One
Titans came into this match with the upper hand, having finished top spot on the division ladder. However, after a transformation in their performance over the season, Buck’s intent for finals was evident.
The first half showcased the abilities of Titans that got them to this point of the season. Andrew Baker and Riley Llon in goals proved a lethal combination and saw them shoot at every angle in the circle. David Capron in Centre was pivotal for his Titans team and switched from defence to attack with ease, always offering for a pass or moving into the space to receive.
Their first half performance saw Titans maintain a seven goal lead entering the second half.
Positions fairly unchanged from Bucks, the final quarter battle between Bucks and Titans was what finals are for. Aaron Clarke in Titian’s Centre was so speedy on the court that you couldn’t keep track of him, while Blair Henderson in Goal Keeper for Titans pounced at the perfect opportunities and took rebounds to convert.
As they scored their final goal, Bucks couldn’t catch up and Titans walked away with a victorious eleven goal win, proving timing and consistency matters most.These two aspects will have to be maintained by Titans next week when they fight for the gold against DDNA Teal.
It was the battle for home town bragging rights in this battle between DDNA’s Division One teams. The sides played each other twice this season with both sides picking up a win apiece, making this a rivalry match.
It was a closely contested match of fluctuating scores between the two. Red came out hard in the first quarter to lead while Teal dug deep to stick with them in the second quarter. As it went into the second half, Teal were on the move and showed no signs of slowing down.
James Mcgann for Teal worked hard down the court to help his team take control, providing plenty of goal assists to Brent Pace and Thomas Fisher. This pair read each others position play in the goal circle to position themselves strategically. Down in defence, Ronan Pring proved lethal, his reach over the ball and on-body defence shaking Red’s goalers.
Teal up by one goal at the beginning of the final quarter, what followed was a contest of speed and endurance. As the seconds went on, scores levelled. It went back and fourth until the very end until everyone’s eyes looked at the scores as the siren went… victory to Teal.
In the end it was the consistent teamwork and decisive movement of Teal that got them ahead of Red, with Red shaken under the pressure.
Mixed Division One
Phoenix came out to play this week in a monstrous victory against Bucks, capping their undefeated season with now a shot at the big one. With quarter scores being broken down to 24, 19, 19 and 10, their final score of 72 was a direct reflection of the strong skill and coordination of ball movement from player to player. A prominent first quarter has been their strength all season and will serve a big asset in the Grand Final.
Ultimately, Fitzroy’s mid ourt was speedy and their passes into goals shifty, while down in defence they showed determination and drive to rebound and intercept any passes.
Bullets came out with determination in the first quarter to lead by one goal at the end of the first break. There was everything on the line and neither Ariels nor St Kilda were backing down. Despite starting as an even contest, Ariels took charge in the second quarter to take the lead. Kirsty Clark powered through in defence to force the pressure and connected with sister Lorna in the midcourt. However, just like that Bullets powered through to steal the lead back again. It seemed neither side could manage to wrestle the lead away. That was until the final quarter.
Ariels movements shone on court in the final quarter with their succinct passes into goals and around circle almost unstoppable. Despite efforts from Bullets, they faded off and allowed Ariels to run home with the win.