The best and brightest in Victorian Men’s and Mixed netball returned to the State Netball and Hockey Centre last night with the return of MLeague.
For the first time in the Premier Men’s division, eight teams filled the contest, and with an influx of new players and teams, a record high of 33 teams competed across the four divisions.
It’s set to be an enthralling season so settle in and get up to date with the round one match report!
With these two sides playing their inaugural match in the MLeague competition, it resulted in a tough contest that demonstrated determination and drive.
For Sharks it was their forceful passes into goals that stood out, while for Sirens it was their speed and decisive direction down the midcourt.
It was Sharks in the end though whose first quarter dominance paid off over the match, allowing them to extend each quarter and finish with an 8 goal victory. Junior Levi was instrumental in Sharks’ first week win, shooting a total of 51 of his teams’ goals.
Reigning premiers, Geelong Cougars, restated their power in the competition to take home a decisive 25-goal win against Ariels.
Jed Christian and Jake Noonnan were a dynamic duo in Geelong’s midcourt, rewarding the efforts of their defenders impressive intercepts and elevated rebounds.
With high intensity in each third of the court, it looks like Cougars haven’t slowed down at all from last season.
Capitalising on turnovers and utilising each player on the court saw St Therese secure their first win of 2019 by 23 goals.
DDNA kept St Therese in their sights during the first quarter, only two goals behind at the end of the first break. However, a blowout second quarter allowed St Therese to shoot 21 goals to DDNA’s seven goals and continued their efforts across the remainder of the match to increase the margin.
With control of the ball from the first centre, Blackhawks played a consistent and dominant contest for the entirety of the match. A 20-goal second quarter highlighted the eminent communication between Daniel Cooke and Lucas Farrimond and the team strength on the circle edge.
Seahawks struggled to get accuracy of their passes into the goals which gave plenty of opportunity for Blackhawks to intercept passes and convert them into goals.
There was no better way to kick of the night with a match between who we can expect to be two of the strongest competitors in Mixed Premier.
Pasifika Sharks had never played on the MLeague stage before and for Geelong, they had a mix of players from Men’s Premier and VNL Championship who were still reeling from recent premierships of their own.
A close first half saw the two sides split only by three goals. With strong match ups across the court, one key difference between Sharks and Cougars was their strategic plays in goals. Cougars decided to go for a feeding approach around the circle to find the best positions to shoot while Sharks utilised their goal-shooter’s height advantage to throw strong passes straight in from the top of the goal third.
Cougars were able to break away in the final two quarters and sustained their organised movements to outplay Sharks and seize a 9-goal win.
From the players:
“Having played together for the first time was a great experience, our lack of time together showed and while we stayed with them for most of the game in the last five minutes we really let go and let them run away with the score line.
Shoutout to our girls getting out there and stepping up to a new level of netball which is promising for the rest of the season.”– Junior Levi, Pasifika Sharks
After taking out the 2018 premiership, Parkville Panthers delivered an unwavering performance against DDNA last night to seize an undeniably large victory, 41 points to be exact.
It looked as though they hadn’t even taken a break since last season, their connections between thirds extremely clean and the skill of defenders a force to be reckoned with.
From the players:
“We are really happy with what we put out there today. Obviously a 40 goal margin is a lot bigger than what we expected but we came out and played our brand of netball. I would describe our brand of netball as fast, intense and hungry for the ball. As a coach I am beyond happy.
We’ve had Georgette Paatsch come back form NSW which we are really excited about. Mainly though, we’ve kept our main core group and I think that’s why we’ve been so successful. “– Riley Richardson, Parkville Panthers
Only a four-goal difference at the end of the first quarter, Blackhawks broke away over the rest of the match to secure their first win of the 2019 season.
Some fumbling of the ball by St Therese gave the opportunity to Blackhawks to convert turnovers and take a steady first half lead. Accuracy in Blackhawks’ goaling end outshone St Therese and the feeding in their attack set Lachlan Deane, Maddy Hargrave and Matt Doyle to score a combined 46-goals to St Therese’s 36.
From the players:
“I haven’t played for a few years so it’s great to be back out on the court. It’s very fast, to say the least, and the rules are a bit more modern to you can really have a good crack at it.
We started well but lapsed towards the end. We are a new team so the connections aren’t quite there now but will build. We had great passages in each quarter but it was just that lack of understanding that made us come undone.”– Prue Stanley, St Therese
A steady lead throughout the match, Sonics delivered a clean game of netball to see their first win of the season.
Persistent in their pressure over the ball and more confident in their passes, Sonics took a 3-goal in the first half that only extended over the final two quarters. Despite strategic goaling strategies from Vipers, precise shooting was displayed by Sonics goaler Jack Carpenter who successfully shot 43 goals and contribute to his teams’ final score of 60.
Men’s Division One
It was clear the 2018 premiers, Northern Titans, were excited to be back on the netball court as they came out strong in the first quarter to nearly double Combat’s score, 13-7.
Keeping a consistent player fixture, Titans appeared calm and composed while Combat shifted positions to try and keep up.
Ending as strong as they started, Titans shot an impressive 14 goals in the final quarter to result a victorious 15-goal first week win.
Despite quite an equally contested match, Melbourne Bucks managed to pull out an elevated third quarter with fierce combinations and walk away with win.
A 12-goal win for Bucks reflected their persistent defending which resulted in intercepts and turnovers for the goalers to utilise.
As demonstrated in the Mixed and Men’s match earlier in the night, a dominant lead in first quarter can make or break success. A victory made from a powerful first quarter this week was St Therese, who more than doubled their first quarter lead against Southern Storm to win by 20 goals.
Remaining in charge and persistent, some intercepts in the first quarter helped St Therese get up on Storm and from the first few centres to take a solid lead then ultimately the game.
Mixed Division One
A close fluctuating first half saw DDNA up at the end of the first quarter by two goals. This lead was snatched back by Bullets to flip the margin and lead at the end of half time, 28-26.
A surge of power in the second half, Bullets switched on their intensity and took a dominant eleven goal lead in the final quarter to achieve their first win of the season.
Phoenix and Ariels were both on the hunt for their first win of 2019 on Wednesday night.
Fancy footwork and a height advantage in the circle made for some impressive displays of defence from Phoenix to shake Ariels’ goalers.
While Ariels’ midcourt kept them in the game in the first half, some changes in the second half saw a blowout end to the night. Phoenix held Ariels to a mere three goals in the third quarter while they swished an overpowering 19 goals.
The match was decided heading into the final quarter despite a strong finish from Ariels. Phoenix’s first week saw success with a whopping 32-goal win.
Despite only being down by 8 goals at the end of the first quarter, DDNA Pink were no match for Melbourne Bucks whose striking goaling abilities saw them increase their quarter goal totals by one goal per quarter, 18, 19, 20, 21.
While DDNA had speed in the midcourt, Bucks seemed to have clean transitions between each third which saw them outplay them and take the win, by 49 goals nonetheless! As reigning premiers it looks like they could be going back to back in 2019.
Despite coming out with dominance in the first quarter to take an early lead, Ariels Juniors couldn’t keep their consistency last night as LTU Eagles stole the match back in the second half.
Eagles goaler Michael Collings stood out in the third quarter as he shot an impacting 16 goals for his team.
Although a 10-goal difference at the end of the match, both teams had their fair share of shining moments in the match and look to bring some serious skill in 2019.
Make sure to keep up with next weeks matches and check out the 2019 MLeague fixtures!