Bupa VNL teams step closer to finals

Round 17 kicked off Wednesday night where six out of the ten Bupa VNL sides took to the State Netball and Hockey Centre.

Ladder shake ups in both Division One and Championship made finals contenders a bit clearer, and some yet to be played matches in 19 & Under keep uncertainty in the air.

Matches for Round 17 continue over the weekend at Somerville Centre and Community Bank Stadium. Make sure to keep up to date, after all, there’s only one more chance for some teams to earn a spot in the 2019 Bupa VNL finals series.


Ariels (58) def by City West Falcons (75)


After losing their first match for the season last week, Falcons were back to prove. Taking a 6-goal lead in the first quarter, Falcons’ intensity continued to grow over the course of the match, increasing their lead quarter by quarter.

Zoe Davies and Sarah Szczykulski worked as power duo in Falcon’s defence to swing on to each other’s players and catch Ariels off guard in the goals, resulting in some striking intercepts. Molly Jovic and Maggie Lind made for another impressive pair, their midcourt dynamics allowing the ball to fly down the court with ease.

Ariels were not ones to back down and outscored Falcons in the final quarter, executing technical plays in their goal third to shake things up. Ultimately, Falcons had control of the games pace and possessed a lead to large for Ariels to come back from.

A cohesive match across all positions, Falcons won by 17 goals for Round 17 and are set to finish the rounds on top spot of the ladder. 

Boroondara Express (57) def Hawks Netball (48)


Only one goal splitting the two at half time, strong pressure down the midcourt and taking possession of loose balls allowed Boroondara to capitalise and mature their lead in the second half. 

Kelsey Buxton and Shannon Rennison moved succinctly in the first half to hold up Boroondara in their goal end and disrupt their play to force turnovers. Down in Hawks’ attack, Taylor Kearns drove hard for every ball and made use of each pass to feed into the circle strategically.

Boroondara’s combinations have improved measurably over the season, and their second half demonstrated this particularly. Ashley Ryan for Express worked hard down the court, dodging, driving and providing plenty of goal assists to Clare Vearing. In their defence, Caitlyn Degaris and Bella Brown stuck tight on Hawks’ goalers and their strong holds put the pressure on Hawks. Down the other end, Vearing and Hamil held their ground and were patient when offering in the circle, which allowed them position themselves optimally to shoot. 

Both these teams will play their last matches for the season and there’s no doubt they will be bringing everything to make it a memorable one.

Wilson Storage Southern Saints (52) def by Melbourne University Lightning (61)


Just on the outskirts of the top 4, this was the week that would determine Saints future in finals. Despite an impressive season, losing to Lightning this week moved finals out of reach for Saints who are likely to finish 5th, depending on the outcomes of Round 18.

Saints had the same strength in their warm ups that they’ve shown all season. When it came time to hit the court though, Lightning were switched on and had the intensity of a final in both their play and attitude. Lightning played with purpose from the first centre and put pressure on Saints in the first half with pre-emptive passing down the court and strong defence. This gave them a 7-goal lead at the end of half time. 

Saints play over the match wasn’t as strategic or intense compared with their performance over the season. Despite their goalers shooting at 83% goal accuracy, their midcourt looked to struggle to manoeuvre themselves down the court which led to a lot of crowding. Stepth McNay held her ground in defence and her teamwork with Kristy Clark to transition the ball after a turnover assisted her team to stay in the match.

The Lightning defence in Maddie Carter, Madeline Stewart and Gabby Coffer, held up Saints, winning many turnovers in the ring. The combination of Fury athletes, Jordan Cransberg and Mikaela Vaughan in the attack end allowed consistent flow into the goal circle.

What gave Lightning the opportunity to win in the end was their ability to play a consistent four quarters, playing to each team mates strengths.

Peninsula Waves v Casey Demons


Somerville Community and Recreation Centre, Sunday 21st July at 6:30pm.

North East Blaze v Geelong Cougars


Community Bank Stadium, Saturday 20th July at 8:00pm.

Division One

Ariels (50) def by City West Falcons (51)


It was a battle for control of the match between Ariels and Falcons this week. Although finals being out of reach for the two, that didn’t mean the playing field was any less intense.

A competitive match from the get-go, only 1 point could separate the two teams in the first quarter, Falcons taking a scarce lead. A heightened second quarter for Falcons gave them the opportunity to capitalise on turnovers and secure the biggest lead of the match, a result of the midcourts hard work to switch from attack to defence. Alahria Smith and Tiarah Minns demonstrated this well and executed powerful passes to assist transitions.

Ariels picked up the pace in the second half to shoot 30 goals to Falcons’ 24-goals. Ruby Shannahan was direct in her movements in the goal circle and knew when to hold for passes in. Alana Nicol lead her team well through the midcourt, communicating and directing the ball where it would best benefit Ariels.

A fierce final quarter brought the scores as close as they had been in the first quarter. Despite strengths being displayed from both sides, Falcons snuck in with a final goal to win by 1-goal.

Boroondara Express (53) def Hawks Netball (63)


This was the match that would split Hawks and Boroondara. Sitting on the ladder with equal points, this match was crucial for finals positioning and had the ability to influence finals match ups.

What everyone thought world be a close game turned out to be a match decided by the first quarter. Hawks came out with passion and determination to take an 8-goal lead against Boroondara. Playing a steady and controlled match for four quarters, they did not let their lead waver once, and by the time the final whistle was blown they were 10-goals ahead and in 2nd place on the competition ladder. 

Hawks tight the defence and pressure over the ball gave them multiple opportunities to disrupt Boroondara’s play. Emily Kay and Sally Deller in Hawks defence forced Express to pass out of the circle to readjust to shoot. Likewise, Jasmine Ferguson and Chloe Sinclair looked for gaps to fill as they defended Boroondara’s transition. This force Boroondara to make big passes that presented opportunities for Hawks interceptions.

Another high goal percentage for Hawks saw Rice, Hill and Lenehan-Moustafa share the load and shoot at 89% accuracy. 

As it sits, Boroondara now remain in 4th while Hawks sit 2nd. They are both secured a spot in finals but the outcomes from Geelong and Blaze’s clashes this weekend could shake it all up.

Wilson Storage Southern Saints (55) def Melbourne University Lightning (46)


As demonstrated over the course of this season, a dominant lead in first quarter can make or break a victory. A victory made from a powerful first quarter this week was Saints, who started with a 7-goal lead which allowed them to remain in charge for four quarters.

Saints showcased a free-flowing transition down the court, making it hard for Lightning to cause a turnover. Their defensive pressure was too much for Lightning also, with frantic play and many balls being thrown out of court. Lightning were unable to gain an advantage over Saints, with the last quarter resulting in a 9-goal win.

Peninsula Waves v Casey Demons


Somerville Community and Recreation Centre, Sunday 21st July at 5:00pm.

North East Blaze v Geelong Cougars


Community Bank Stadium, Saturday 20th July at 4:30pm.

19 & Under

Ariels (40) def by City West Falcons (50)


Only a single goal separating the two teams at the end of the first quarter, Falcons played a strong four quarters to lead the entire match and take it home with a runaway final quarter.

Emma Walters in the midcourt and Mel Olamanu were instrumental to their teams’ win. Emma directed the play of the ball with confidence and Mel was ready to pounce at any chance for an intercept, taking 3 notable ones in the match.

Ariels played well themselves, Ella Rees and Georgie Whittle putting pressure on Falcons passes into goals to limit options. It was Falcons teamwork and strength in every third that saw them take out a sizeable victory to make it their 13th for the season.

Falcons will definitely be in finals this season as they currently hold 1st place and a point lead too large to overtake next week.

Boroondara Express (59) def Hawks Netball (54)


Tied up at the end of the first quarter, it was a tough contest for Express and Hawks who possessed their own strengths in areas of the court. For Express it was their dynamic midcourt plays by Emma Allman and Casey Dunstan. For Hawks, Hannah Keane and Ellie Karaula were the goalers to beat.

Olivia Spence and Gemma Thomas did well in defence for Hawks, restricting Express’ ability to enter the goal circle with ease. While Abigail Inglis provided a wealth of support and back up for the attacks when switching the ball from defence to attack.

Boroondara’s tight play down the court couldn’t be intervened by Hawks though who were left playing catch up for most of the match.

Unfortunately neither sides will make finals with their current points, despite what was an impressive display of netball this week.

Wilson Storage Southern Saints (62) def Melbourne University Lightning (59)


A battle for control for Saints and Lightning saw victory fluctuate for both. Saints came out strong in the first quarter to take the lead. Lightning weren’t backing down though and proceeded to take charge in the second and third quarter.

With Lightning leading by 4-goals at the end of the third quarter, Saints powered through to deliver an excellent display of netball and fight back to see out a 3-goal win. The noise of the Saints in defence had Lightning rush their ball movement, which made them rely on a long pass into goals where Donnelly and Cooke took chances for intercepts.

With Waves and Cougars yet to play this Round, Saints sit 2nd on the ladder with equal points to Waves in 3rd and Geelong in 4th.

Peninsula Waves v Casey Demons


Somerville Community and Recreation Centre, Sunday 21st July at 5:00pm.

North East Blaze v Geelong Cougars


Community Bank Stadium, Saturday 20th July at 6:00pm.

Next week will determine it all and decide which sides will get a chance at finals glory.

It will be your last chance to see every club in one place battling it out on court and leaving nothing to chance. Round 18 will see everyone play at the State Netball and Hockey Centre from 6:45pm onwards on Wednesday 24th July.

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Written by Amellia Wood