Round one of the 2014 Devine Victorian Netball League season is in the book after an impressive night of action at the State Netball Hockey Centre
The top two teams at the end of the 2013 home and away season squared off in round one, with premiers City West Falcons delivering a reality check to VU Western Lightning.
In a supreme shooting display, Falcons goalers Julia Knott (25 from 27 attempts) and Alice Teague-Neeld (27 from 28) took the points over Lightning’s much-vaunted defensive line.
With City West centre Elizabeth Watson riding high after being handed a Melbourne Vixens contract earlier in the week, the premiership favourites were far too good and turned a six-goal halftime lead into an easy 52-34 win.
The team Falcons beat in last year’s grand final, Peninsula Waves, might take some time to adjust to life without shooting target Mwai Kumwenda after going down 45-30 to DC North East Blaze.
It was a horror night for Waves goalers Madeline Morrison (16 from 33) and Sarah Hogan (eight from 18) who had almost as many attempts as their Blaze counterparts but couldn’t make them stick.
There were some selection surprises at Southern Saints, who started their 2014 campaign with last year’s 19 and Under goal shooter Chloe Curran (27 from 36) under the post and a new-look, youthful centre court that included Sarah Wolff and Alexandra Salter.
The gamble paid big dividends as they easily accounted for Geelong Cougars, 45-27.
Boroondara Genesis showcased their potent mix of youth and experience in a crushing 67-33 win over Fed Uni Ballarat Pride.
Vixens goaler Erin Hoare (21 from 27) had a night out at her new club, while Victorian 19 and Under player Emma Ryde-Coad was just as impressive when she got her chance, netting 30 of her 35 attempts.
Pride took the opportunity to trial different combinations in the second half but couldn’t put a dent in Genesis’ defense and Monash University Storm did what was required against Yarra Valley Grammar Ariels, kicking off their season with a 42-34 win.
Storm goalkeeper Kate Yensch kept Ariels shooter Sophie O’Shea (10 from 17) quiet, while at the other end Stacey Northey (30 from 44) was more than a handful for Ariels’ defence, despite the return of former Vixen Shannon Eagland.
VNL Division 1 premiers Boroondara Genesis picked up right where they left off last year in their round one stoush against Fed Uni Ballarat Pride, cruising to a 63-27 win.
The damage was done in the first 15 minutes, with Genesis scorching to a 21-4 lead. Pride matched them in the second quarter before Boroondara flicked the switch again and nailed 34 second-half goals to get their season off to the most impressive of starts.
If you didn’t know better, you’d swear you were watching a Championship division match as Southern Saints took on Geelong Cougars.
Saints took to the court with a team sporting three players – goal shooter Elizabeth Nicol, centre Tarryn Munro and goal defence Ashleigh Hardy – from last year’s Championship team, and that experience showed in a 45-27 win.
A City West Falcons team featuring a decent chunk of last year’s victorious 19 and Under side came from behind to record a dramatic 36-36 draw against VU Western Lightning.
In a seesawing encounter Lightning led at quarter time, Falcons grabbed the ascendency in the second quarter but gave it back in the third quarter before leveling the scores by the final whistle.
Monash University Storm welcomed 2012 premiership player Jessica D’Antonio back into the fold after a year on the sideline with injury in a 39-31 win over Yarra Valley Grammar Ariels.
Storm led by nine goals at three-quarter time and despite a late Ariels charge that reduced the margin to four, late goals to Victorian 21 and Under goaler Ramayer Gourley (25 from 31) ensured they held on.
Peninsula Waves hung on grimly for a nailbiting 38-36 win against DC North East Blaze.
Blaze trailed by no more than three goals at any of the breaks and drew level in the final quarter before a couple of late ones and some staunch defensive work from defenders Jessica Maher and Kara Hargrave dragged Waves over the line.
19 AND UNDER
Low scores were the order of the day in the 19 and Under division, with the babies of the Devine VNL finding their feet in their first hitout of 2014.
The wheels fell off the Yarra Valley Grammar Ariels wagon in the final quarter and almost cost last year’s grand finalists a first-up win against Monash University Storm.
Ariels built their lead to six goals at three-quarter time, courtesy of impressive games from defensive duo Madeleine Toohey and Monique Clark, and extended it to eight goals early in the last quarter.
But a couple of missed Ariels goals and the introduction of Stephanie Gibbs (seven from nine) into goal shooter for Monash saw Storm claw their way to level the scores with just a minute remaining.
Storm took possession at the next centre pass but missed a mid-range shot, allowing Clark to rebound and send Ariels into attack, where they picked out Samantha Gooden (36 from 43) under the post to sink the winner and secure a 42-41 result.
Defending 19 and Under champions City West Falcons fielded a new-look side and were pushed all the way by VU Western Lightning.
Falcons swung plenty of changes in a bid to find a combination that worked, rotating 11 players onto the court.
Lightning put up more shots in the first half but inaccuracy hurt them as they slipped to a five-goal deficit at the long break and couldn’t get any closer, eventually losing 31-37.
Boroondara Genesis leapt to the top of the 19 and Under table with a convincing 44-31 victory over Fed Uni Ballarat Pride.
It was a 13-4 third quarter that set up the result for last year’s preliminary finalists after the introduction of goal shooter Abby Healy (17 from 19) at half time.
Pride stemmed the flow and pegged a goal back in the final quarter in a promising sign for their round two clash against Falcons.
Geelong pulled off a final-quarter blitz to overrun Southern Saints 45-36.
Saints reeled in a four-goal half time deficit to lead 31-29 with a quarter remaining, but a Cougars defensive shuffle that saw Brooke Allan reintroduced at goal keeper restricted Saints to just five goals in the final term, while Zanna Woods (26 from 30) led the way with nine goals from 11 attempts when it counted.
Fresh legs couldn’t get the job done for DC North East Blaze, who fell 31-38 to Peninsula Waves.
Blaze got all 12 of their players on court, ringing in the changes at half time and three-quarter time after they scored five goals to 12 in the third quarter.
The accuracy of Waves shooters Mandy Hanegraaf (28 from 33) and Rhys Carter-Coleman (10 from 16) proved decisive as Blaze’s goalers struggled to 31 goals from 59 attempts.