Bupa VNL fires up for Round 3

With games being played across Casey Stadium, Waverley Netball Centre and the State Netball and Hockey Centre Wednesday night, there was action of all kinds to say the least.

Here’s all that happened at Round 3 of the Bupa VNL, and trust us when we say it was a lively one!



City West Falcons (62) def Geelong Cougars (56)


A grand final rematch pinning defending champions, City West Falcons, against a redemption seeking Geelong Cougars was a contest the crowd at SNHC had been waiting to see unfold.

Warm-ups from both teams hinted a rivalry that was to provide a rollercoaster of a match.

A tight start and opening centre pass saw Cougars not only take the first goal of the match, but shoot two in a row after a turnover in Falcons’ goal circle. A few easy drops from Geelong and some inaccuracy of passing allowed Falcons to outscore Cougars and take a six-goal lead at half time.

A third quarter showed a fighting spirit from Cougars to come back from an 11-goal deficit and close the margin to five entering the last quarter. In the end though, inconsistency got the best of the 2018 runners-up team, Falcons playing a final quarter similar to that of last year’s grand final to extend their lead and defend their title.

“Unfortunately, we couldn’t pinch the win tonight in the end,” said Cougars’ Emily Post responding to their defeat.

“It was one of those nights where I don’t think we had consistency across the four quarters. It was really good in some patches then not as much in other.

“When we were on we looked really good. We would peg it back a couple and it’d be the time to put the foot down and then that’s where we would turn it over.

“Times when we were hesitant that’s when we got stuck. I guess it’s about knowing the moment to really value the ball and score. When we do get that momentum, we have to keep it.”

Post pin-pointed a significant impact on the result being Falcons ability to utilise turnovers without fault.

“Against Falcons it’s, if you make a mistake they score pretty quickly with having a tall goaler. That’s where it becomes really, really hard and mistakes become crucial.

“It really shows the good placement of Jane from City West in the goals. They’ve continued, from the grand final last year, that really good supply to her to pass it in for her to score.”

Jane Cook shot a whopping 60-goals to steal the game and contribute to Falcons final score of 62.

Although coming out with a loss, Post said tonight’s game showcased the growth of her squad compared to the last time they faced Falcons.

“Tonight, we could have played a lot better so to only go down by six was a good thing for us, especially compared to the grand final that blew out a for Falcons in the end.

“From us, we really structured on our centre pass and when we got the ball going we were a bit more direct in our play and letting the ball go, really trusting each other, that’s when we were really on.”

Post said her team is looking forward to redeem themselves over the course of the season.

“We just want to keep building really.

“Next week is going to be an entirely different game. It’s going to be about valuing more possession and being consistent across four quarters, seeing that tempo of when we need to pick up the pace and when we just need to rest and look after the ball.

“We’ll review tonight’s game and just go onwards and upwards.”

Boroondara Express (34) def by Melbourne University Lightning (50)


Lightning and Boroondara were on the hunt for their first win of 2019 Wednesday.

Fancy footwork and a height advantage in the circle made for some impressive displays of defence from Boroondara to shake Lightning’s goalers, pressuring a 50% goal accuracy.

Lightning’s midcourt kept them in the game, holding a one-goal advantage at half time. Some changes in the second half saw a blowout end to the night, Lightning doubling Boroondara’s scoring shots, 30-15, to finally see a win.

Ariels (53) def Wilson Storage Southern Saints (46)


Also taking their first for 2019 were Ariels who stomped the yard at Waverley.

A comeback game to say the least, Ariels turned the tables on Saints during the second half after being eight-points down at the end of the first two quarters. Speedy movement down the centre and strategic passing plays saw them tighten up the scores to 38 all.

A blazing last quarter secured a win, 53-46, and allowed Ariels to move up the Championship ladder to 8th spot, only one behind their opponent Saints.

Casey Demons (74) def Hawks Netball (53)


The inaugural Demons home game at Casey Stadium had an overwhelming buzz about it, more than 1200 Demons and Hawks Netball fanatics all ready for a night of netball. The second game of the night, the crowd was riled up and ready to roar.

A back-and-forth first quarter kept things close at 15 all, showing the strong execution of team play all the way down the court from the two squads.

A second quarter breakaway from Hawks gave Casey a chance to take control. Up by three at the end of the first half, Casey entered the second half with the first goal.

Despite persistent work from Hawk’s defenders in the circle, Shannon Blackman was too fast and her Casey team mates expected every pass and play without fault.

With a booming Demons crowd and an elevated Championship team, Casey took out the only win at their stadium, a big one at that, 74-53.

Peninsula Waves (33) def by North East Blaze (50)


The odds were in Blaze’s favour this week, taking out their third straight win of the season to snatch top spot on the ladder.

Dominance in Blaze’s communication and tactical thinking was evident from the first whistle which allowed them to come out blazing and make Waves well-aware who’s game was going to be played.

A 10-point lead in the first quarter increased over the game with versatility in Blaze’s midcourt consistently displayed. Just too good for Waves to catch up to, Blaze achieved another victory with a margin of 13-points.

Division One

City West Falcons (56) def Geelong Cougars (48)


A rocky start to their season, City West Falcons entered this week hoping to regain some confidence and take out their first week of the season. 

“We’ve had a rough couple of weeks not winning a match,” said Falcons mid-courter Alahria Smith. “We just wanted to go out there and have a red-hot crack.”

And a red-hot crack is what they delivered, starting their first quarter with ferocity to take a two-goal lead that only increased with their intensity over the match.

“It was a really tough game all the way through. It was goal for goal so we just had to get a couple of those touches to slip our way through to the front for the first quarter and take that advantage.”

Smith said they went into the match mainly wanting to improve on the mistakes from the last few weeks and play with the consistency she knows her team can bring.  

“Our aim for the first quarter was just to go out there. When we did start to see that chip at the front we shifted and were like we have to keep persisting with this gameplay. 

“Heading in for the second and third quarter we decided to keep doing what we were doing.

“Before heading back on court, I just thought if we could get another two or three ahead and keep pushing at it we might get this and as our last quarter proved we did just that.”

An unfortunate start for Geelong saw their primary goal shooter, Sarah Main, collide with her defender and carried off court with a suspected knee injury.

This collision seemed to foreshadow consistent close contact between the two sides throughout the match, demonstrated by the abundance of calls made by the umpires and warnings given.

“It did get really intense. Everyone was clearly pushing for it and trying to snatch the ball off each other. Geelong and us always have a real hot go at each other.

Reflecting on her team’s success, Smith felt the experience from goal shooter, Genie Sivalingam, was paired well to the abilities of their scholarship player, Taliah Mullane, who made her VNL debut in goals.

“I reckon the whole game was just a standout. Having Genie in the goals is such an asset because she is so tall and just takes every ball.

“We’ve got a bit more experience which has helped form bonds between the team. The newbies are stepping up to their level, like Taliah in goal attack who made such a difference tonight.”

After tonight’s win and a strengthened team, Smith said Wednesday night’s win will not be the last for Falcon’s this year.

“We need to push our first two games aside, look at this one and keep aiming for those wins, taking it week by week I think.

“The fact we have really united as a team and have some confidence back after tonight, we are really going to come at 2019 so look out.”

It will be Peninsula Waves that have to look out next week as they face Falcons at the State Netball and Hockey Centre next week.

Boroondara Express (57) def Melbourne University Lightning (48)


Aiming for their third straight win of the season, Boroondara came out with intent against Lightning who were seeking redemption after a week two loss.

The determination from the two was evident from the first quarter, defensive pressure over the ball forcing turnovers and striking leaps being made from both defenders and goalers to utilise rebounds.

Scores level at quarter time, 18 all, Boroondara slowly took control in the second and third quarters to take a two-goal advantage heading into the final quarter.

A change-up in the midcourt and introduction Naomi Henry into goal shooter sparked a run-away final quarter win for Boroondara. Despite tight defence from Lightning’s midcourt, the combinations in Boroondara’s goals between Henry, Alex Ball and Maddison Wallmeyer saw them take out a nine-goal victory and secure them top spot on the Division One ladder.

Ariels (52) def Wilson Storage Southern Saints (37)


As demonstrated over Round 1 and 2, a dominant lead in first quarter can make or break a victory. A victory made from a powerful first quarter this week was Ariels, who more than doubled their first quarter lead against Southern Saints to win by 15-goals.

Remaining in charge and persistent, some intercepts in the first quarter helped Ariels get up on Saints from the first few centres to take a solid lead and ultimately the game.

Casey Demons (34) def by Hawks Netball (48)


Unfortunately for Casey, their last home game of the night couldn’t be won against Hawks Netball. Consistent with last week’s performance, Hawks proved why they took out the Division One title last year and why other teams should watch out for a possible back-to-back.

Doubling Casey’s score from the first quarter, Hawks defence over the ball and sustained intensity over the whole game was captivating to watch.

It was clear they had regrouped after their loss to Cougars last week and worked towards forcing turnovers with tighter defence down the court. Capitalising on their efforts, Hawks secured a well-deserved 14-point defeat over Casey.

Peninsula Waves (44) def by North East Blaze (46)


A last quarter upset saw Blaze take out a tight 2-point win against Waves who held the lead for the first three quarters of the game.

Waves who possessed a 5-goal advantage going into the second halves couldn’t keep their consistency until the end. Some last quarter changes to Blaze’s defence provided the surge they needed to win the tightest comeback match of the night, 46-44.

19 & Under

City West Falcons (37) def by Geelong Cougars (51)


Securing top spot on the ladder this week, Cougars displayed an impressive win against City West Falcons that demonstrated a clear team bond.

Sophie Shoebridge, goal defender for Cougars, reflected on the successful win.

“We definitely wanted to come out strong and have that strong first quarter that we did.

“We started off really well. Throughout the first quarter we definitely had laps but we did a really great job to pick ourselves back up as a team and get around each other to look at little mistakes we had to repair.”

A strong five-goal lead at the end of the first quarter gave Cougars the advantage they needed and left Falcons playing a catch-up match.

“Throughout the second and third we definitely lifted and tried to keep the intensity high regardless of what happened down the other end with their bench being really loud.

“We kept our own game in the last quarter, definitely trying to lift each other.”

With deflections, intercepts and impressive takes all down the court from Cougars, Shoebridge was impressed by her teams display.

“Each time we got a turnover it was such a great feeling!

“It was definitely our main goal today to get around each other and when the girls were getting the intercepts it was a great spark for the whole team to keep the intensity from us up and continue doing what we did to take the win tonight.”

A final score of 51-37 definitely came down to Cougars defence work in the goal circle and down the midcourt.

“Ellen in our goal keeper role, picking off those balls and keeping the team together by being really vocal, she had a great game today,” explained Shoebridge.

“We played together last year as well so it’s great because we back each other a lot and we know we’ve got a job to do so we just try to keep each other positive and keep the communication up.”

With new combinations in their team this year, Shoebridge said her Cougars girls are looking good and are set to keep taking the wins they need to make it to finals.

“It’s a really new team so we’ve based a community around the team to really try and create a team bond. We’re constantly around each other with training, working together, just trying to get to know each other and how we move on the court, things like that.

“I think other teams should be worried about our four-quarter effort. We just never give up, keep pushing and we don’t back down. Yes, we might be a couple goals down but we are going to keep fighting, all season long.”

Boroondara Express (61) def Melbourne University Lightning (53)


For the second week in a row, Boroondara showed us their comfortable rhythm and conviction that got them to the grand final last year.

A close fluctuating first half saw Boroondara up at the end of the first quarter by one-point. This lead was snatched back my Lightning to lead at the end of quarter time, 30-29.

A change of power in the second half, Boroondara switched on their intensity and took a dominant nine-goal lead in the third to come in with an advantage to the final quarter and achieve an eight-goal match win.

Ariels (41) def Wilson Storage Southern Saints (40)


An equally matched contest, Ariels just scraped across the line to take a last second win.

A repeat of last week’s game, Ariels were forced to play catch up during the first half against Saints, who seemed to have a confident flow of the ball. A heightened intensity in the second half allowed Ariels fight back, coming from four-goals down to snatch a nail-biting one-point win.

Casey Demons (45) def by Hawks Netball (54)


With 100 members ready for Casey’s 19 & Under team to bless their home courts with a win, Casey couldn’t keep up with Hawks Netball who stole the first game of the night at Casey Stadium.

A dominant first quarter to lead by six, Olivia Morris’ 89% goal accuracy and Lauren Jones’ coordination throughout the centre couldn’t be stopped by Casey who fell short of a victory, 54-45.

Peninsula Waves (36) def by North East Blaze (60)


Blaze only had a win on their mind Wednesday night after not seeing one yet in 2019. A convincing win for them saw Blaze extend their lead at every break, even with the 100% accuracy of Jasmin Mackie in peninsula’s goals.

A 24-goal win for Blaze reflected their persistent defending which resulted in intercepts and turnovers for the goalers to utilise.

Written by Amellia Wood