All Bupa VNL teams were faced with a tough task this week, with three rounds played within eight days. Despite this tight turnaround, all clubs demonstrated a high standard of netball across round seven and eight, as they fight for a top spot as we find ourselves halfway through the season. DC North East Blaze’s successful run in recent weeks continued in round seven and eight with all three teams recording wins, setting them up to become the standard to which other clubs are hoping to match.
Their level of intensity and consistency across the rounds is exemplary, making them a top contender for finals in each grade.
Blaze will play the City West Falcons in round nine next Wednesday wherein the Championship grade, spectators will be sure to witness a strong contest between the fourth and fifth ranked teams. Blaze will have to keep their eyes on Falcons defenders Anger Akec and Zoe Davies who are looking increasingly determined each round, if they want to continue their winning streak. While Blaze have certainly had a successful run in the past few rounds, the Falcons are undoubtedly driven to push them to the edge.
Unfortunately for the Falcons, round eight was not as successful. Facing Hawks Netball, who are currently ranked first in the Championship grade and second in Division One, the Falcons were destined for a challenge. The Hawks prevailed despite levelling the score during the Championship game. Their attempts fell flat as the Hawks flew away with an eleven goal win in the Championship match, nine goals in Division One and eight in 19 and under.
The Hawks had a similarly successful experience at round seven last Sunday. However, while their Championship and Division One teams were able to prevail over Boroondara Express, the 19 and under Express side soared over the Hawks.
The young team are proving to be an asset to the Boroondara club, as they were able to challenge the 2017 premiers, the Geelong Cougars, in round eight. After maintaining a lead for three quarters, the Express walked away with a draw against the Cougars. While they may be disappointed with this outcome, Express should nonetheless be pleased that they were able to test the Cougars given their stranglehold over the Victorian Netball League in past seasons. Express have shown their power as a club and sustain their position on the 19 and under ladder.
The Wilson Storage Southern Saints are exhibiting positive performances after a difficult start to the Bupa VNL season. In round seven, the Saints were in for a tough night as they faced Geelong Cougars. Unfazed by the competition favourites, the Saints overcame the Cougars in the 19 and under match. While the Cougars proved too strong for the Division One and Championship Saints teams, the Bayside squad kept the competition alive, only falling by two and eleven goals respectively.
In round eight, the Saints faced another two goal loss to the Ariels in the 19 and under grade. However, the club bounced back as their Championship team secured a seven-goal win, while their Division One side defeated the Ariels by 37 goals.
After a demanding round against the Blaze, the Peninsula Waves left the State Netball and Hockey Centre with three losses. Despite this set back, the Waves portrayed their usual solid standard of netball. The club boasts reliable and consistently strong players including Alex Maher, Zali Mifsud and Bridgette Barry-Murphy. These three talents, in addition to the remaining strength at the club, place the Waves in a solid position to face the Melbourne University Lightning in round nine.
The Lightning saw an upset at round eight of the Bupa VNL last night with the Selkirk Sovereigns too strong in the Division One and 19 and under matches. The Sovereigns Division One team are showing to be a contender for the premiership. Star shooter Chloe Wilson has helped push the Sovereigns into fourth place on the Division One ladder. With their continuous improvement of late, it appears that they will continue to dominate in future rounds.
However, the Melbourne University Lightning Championship team were able to atone for their club’s losses earlier in the night. The talented line up were able to secure a fifty goal win over the Sovereigns, with the help of star defender Amy Wirth as she moved between goal keeper and goal defence.
The Bupa VNL season continues on Wednesday, 13 June for round nine with games beginning at 7.00pm at the State Netball Hockey Centre. Can’t make it? Follow us on Instagram (@netballvictoria) for live updates throughout the night.