Round 4 delivers at the Bupa VNL

Entering week four of the Bupa VNL season, teams yet to secure a 2019 win were on the hunt while three-week streak winners were ready to take out one more.

With a week of highs and lows amongst Waverley Netball Centre and the State Netball and Hockey Centre, make sure to read up on all that went down during Round 4.

Championship

Melbourne University Lightning (37) def by Hawks Netball (45)

 

A tough contest against Lightning left Hawks flying high to finally take their first win of the season, and a convincing one at that.

With determination, and a clear goal in mind, Hawks snatched an 11-goal lead in the first quarter to hold a steady advantage over Lightning for the rest of the match.

“It was a pretty big game for us. We were three losses coming into this game, three pretty poor losses I guess. We definitely hadn’t played the netball we know is in us,” said Hawks wing-defence, Clare Pettyfor, on Wednesday night.

“A big focus for us was warming up really well so we came out in the first quarter strong, and we were ready to go when we stepped on court,

“Lightning are a really strong team though and we knew they were going to come back at us so it was a really, really great win that we were able to still respond every time they came back at us so great to get a win on the board,

“We were able to put the pressure on and it really set us up for the rest of the game, we were able to just maintain that lead for the rest of the four quarters so the intensity was really there.”

A shake up in the third quarter made room for Lightning to come back, just as Hawks expected, to tighten up the margin. Calm and composed Hawks powered through to the very end to win by 8-points against Lightning.

“In the third quarter, we got a bit nervous. We probably stopped letting the ball go, lost a bit of our confidence and Lightning threw everything at us because they obviously had nothing to lose,

“It wasn’t panic stations, there were no nerves, we just knew that if we could keep that pressure up we’d be able to get the win and lucky we were all able to dig deep and pull out a victory.”

One notable Hawks absence was goaler Kim Commane who most recently took her efforts to the United Kingdom to play with Team Bath.

“Losing Kim Commane hurts. I think we made a conscious effort over the pre-season to know we don’t have her now and we’re a different team, but that doesn’t mean we’re a weaker team,” explained Pettyfor.

“I mean Kim is an amazing player and whenever you’re stuck you can just bomb it in and she can pull it in. We have to work a little harder now in terms of getting the ball down the court and making sure we’re feeding in the circle to the girls,

“I think the one thing it gives us is we’re not as predictable anymore. At the end of last season teams had worked us out and Kim is so good that we’d probably gotten a bit Kim happy, so now we have a bit of a different dynamic and that definitely helps us.”

One goalers departure is another’s arrival though and, according to Petteyfor, that was demonstrated in the stand out performance of their goaler Nat Billings.

“She was really, really strong tonight. We just congratulated Nat, it was one of the strongest games she’s played. We threw a lot of high balls into her and she really ripped it in so that was really great to see.”

Pettyfor feels the adjusted which combines some of the newer and older girls is what will set them apart in 2019.

“Our goal-keeper Claire, who has come up from Division One, had a consistent four quarter and got a heap of turnovers for us which was fantastic,

“We’ve been able to bring a few girls up from Division One which I think’s great for our club. We really want to be a club that promotes from within and has a flow from our 19’s all the way through to our Division One and Championship.”

After this victory, Pettyfor believes there is no reason her team can’t make it back for finals to finish even stronger than they did last year.

“I think we knew that we had in us what we put out on court tonight,

“I feel like tonight we got our mojo, we got our groove back as a team. It was a sort of performance we like to be known for where there was not one standout but everyone just ground out the win,

“We’ve started slowly but there’s no reason we can’t come into it. We’ve got a really good mix of young girls and oldies like me. Hopefully with that balance we can keep getting the wins on the board and hopefully challenge come finals time.”

Ariels (54) def by Casey Demons (66)

 

Riding the high from last week’s comeback win against Saints, Ariels entered their first quarter against Casey with confidence and accuracy to attain a 2-goal lead.

Strong pressure down the midcourt and consistency to capitalise on turnovers, Casey took back control of the game to flip the score difference their way at the end of the second half.

Casey maintained their momentum over the last two quarters of the match to secure their place in the top four on the Championship ladder with a 12-goal win over Ariels.

North East Blaze (67) def Boroondara Express (45)

 

With Blaze eager to take their fourth straight win of the season and Boroondara searching for their first season victory, both teams were ready Wednesday night to prove their own points.

Unfortunately for Boroondara it wasn’t their night at Waverley, with Blaze convincingly winning for another week in a row. It was a testament to their on-court communication, precision thinking and tight plays unable to be disturbed by the opposition.

A 5-goal lead in the first quarter extended over the match, Blaze unable to be beat. Blaze came out on top with a 22-goal triumph, 67-45.

Despite the tight defence and reach over the ball from Boroondara, Blaze goal-shooter Libby Nicol, couldn’t be stopped, shooting an outstanding 55-goals to contribute to her team’s success.

Wilson Storage Southern Saints (45) def by Geelong Cougars (56)

 

A slow start for Saints left them playing a catch-up match against Cougars over the course of the four quarters. Cougars came out strong taking opportunity of their starting centre pass to speed the ball down the court to take the first goal of the match, and backed it up by breaking Saints’ centre pass.

With a 4-goal goal streak to enter the second half, it was evident Cougars had smoother transitions and less trouble feeding into their goalers which allowed them to make use of every turnover they achieved.

A 16-goal deficit at the end of the third quarter, Saints outscored Geelong by 5-goals to lessen the final margin. Unfortunately, it was too late to turn things around and Cougars took their third win of the season, 54-45.

City West Falcons (51) def Peninsula Waves (47)

 

Also taking their fourth straight win of 2019 were City West Falcons whose second half intensity saw them command the match against Waves. Another solid first quarter of the night, Falcons drove hard and fast to the ball to take some impressive intercepts and showcase their intricacy of play.

Despite a second quarter surge of power in Wave’s defence down the midcourt to limit Falcons ability to score, Falcons consistent dynamic to anticipate the movement and placement of team mates to pass to could not be slowed.

Leading the game all of way, Falcons came out 4-goals on top to see them match the points of top ladder spot squad Blaze. The two will face each other next Wednesday 8:20 pm at the State Netball and Hockey Centre to determine who really is number one so far.

Division One

Melbourne University Lightning (49) def by Hawks Netball (64)

 

After missing out to Boroondara last week, Lightning were chasing a big win. Unfortunately for them, it was the Hawks they’d be chasing instead.

Both teams had their share of the momentum throughout the match, a goal for goal start showcasing the rapid feeding between goalers down both ends of the court. The talk between Hawks in the mid court and their steadiness to maintain control of the games pace saw them lead the entire match.

It was their third quarter attacking precision and midcourt defensive pressure that helped them extend their lead to 14-points and sustain their fitness levels to deliver an unwavering final 15-minutes to achieve another win and sneak into second spot on the Division One ladder.

Ariels (47) def Casey Demons (46)

 

A second half comeback from Ariels saw them take out a last minute one-point win against Casey at Waverley despite a strong first half start by the Demons. It seems Ariels enjoy the thrill of an exciting close comeback match, this match very similar to the events of the 19 & Under girls last week.

Down by 4-goals at the end of the second half, Ariels continued fighting throughout the final half of the match to take a 3-goal advantage going into the last 15-minutes.

The winner of this back and forth contest ultimately came down to a couple last minute turnovers which allowed Ariels to transition the ball from one end to the other and secure a satisfying win.

North East Blaze (60) def Boroondara Express (45)

 

With another Blaze team looking for that early season winning streak, it was clear Blaze had nothing but win number four on their mind as they stepped out on the court to face Boroondara.

An evenly matched first quarter contest was short lived as Blaze took off in the second quarter to shoot 17 goals and achieve a 100% goal accuracy. Only missing one goal in the third quarter, Blaze sustained their organised movements and outplayed Boroondara in the midcourt to seize a 15-goal win.

Wilson Storage Southern Saints (44) def by Geelong Cougars (61)

 

Saints, yet to taste victory this season, were hoping to finally come out on top Wednesday night. Unfortunately for them, the Cougar confidence couldn’t be broken as they started strong to leave no room for Saints to break in front.

A runaway final half saw Cougars take back the match and control momentum of the ball to win their third game of the season.

City West Falcons (41) def by Peninsula Waves (59)

 

A runaway start for Waves to more than double Falcons’ first quarter score, 8-19, left Falcons trailing behind for the rest of the match.

Peninsula’s defenders leapt high for Falcon’s rebounds to capitalise and use these turnovers to create a strong and consistent lead. A clear trust in their midcourt resulted in clean transitions down the court to shoot a total of 59 goals and beat out Falcons by 18-goals.

19 & Under

Melbourne University Lightning (47) def Hawks Netball (37)

 

Securing Lightning’s only win of the night was their 19 & Under squad who played an impressive 10-goal winning game to beat Hawks Netball.

Lightning’s fast pace movement of the ball seemed to shake Hawks in the first quarter for Lightning to lead by 6-goals. Hawks entered the second quarter with a heightened intensity to close the margin to 2-points but fatigue hit in the last half.

Lightning took control of the ball and came out on top to scrape into 4th spot on the ladder. Lightning will be tested next week when they take on front runners Geelong Cougars at the State Netball and Hockey Centre next Wednesday 8:20pm.

Ariels (49) def Casey Demons (37)

 

Casey Demons, who were looking for their first win of the season, just couldn’t reach it this week against Ariels who came out on top by 12-points.

Some fumbling of the ball by Casey gave the opportunity to Ariels to score off these turnovers and take a steady first half lead. Accuracy in Ariels goal end outshone Demons and the feeding in Ariels attack set Madeline Hargrave, Emily Andrew and Grace Kelly to score a combined 49-goals to Demons 37.

North East Blaze (37) def by Boroondara Express (66)

 

Only a one-goal difference at the end of the first quarter, Boroondara broke away over the rest of the match to secure their third win of the 2019 season.

An evenly matched contest to start, the 88% goal accuracy of Boroondara’s Rose Laidlaw assisted them to take a convincing 8-goal lead in the second quarter. Strength in their defence to intervene with the Blaze’s goal focus, Boroondara stole an outstanding 20-point final quarter to end up with a hard-earned 29-goal win.

Wilson Storage Southern Saints (45) def by Geelong Cougars (54)

 

Southern Saints were riled up to bring their best against 19 & Under front runners Geelong Cougars at the State Centre. Saints hadn’t won a game since their triumphant win over Blaze at the Bendigo Blockbuster in March.

It was a game of goaling hot streaks between Saints and Cougars, Cougars coming out hot with a 5-goal streak from turnovers in Saints goal third. The shooting rush flipped in the second quarter for Saints to bring scores level at half time, 24-all, after shooting 5- goals in a row themselves.

Consistent pressure over the ball and progression over the course of the game saw Cougars come out on top.

Brittany Tait from Southern Saints reflected on her teams’ efforts throughout the contest despite not having the tallest team in the competition.

“Our game plan for tonight was to be in front of the ball. We don’t have the tallest team in the competition but we have a really good fitness-based squad,

“Their goal-shooter was an easy target for the whole game and I just don’t think we had that height. Our defenders did really well throughout the game getting off the body and intercepting the ball, but straight off the centre pass they were releasing it into the goals for her to get which was a bit difficult,

“Our midcourters have the leap for the ball and don’t rush it. It was nice and steady in the mid court and when we came back in that second quarter and we drew, we go really hyped up and that gave us more confidence I think.”

According to Tait, her teams’ strong start was brought down by Cougars choice of defensive set-up, which spooked Saints’ passing choices.

“In the first quarter I think we got off to a great start. All of our positioning on court and releasing of the ball was amazing. At the end of the first quarter we let them get a few silly intercepts for us not leading on to the ball as much,

“They were setting up a centre court press and I think we were just letting the ball go without thinking too much instead of waiting until they got in front of us and steadying it,

“The last quarter I think we just let them blow out a little bit. We fatigued maybe a little bit and let them play their game instead of playing our own game.”

Despite only winning one match in the 2019 season, Saints won all of their pre-season matches.

“In the pre-season matches we won four from four and at the start of the season we had an awesome win against Blaze. The next few games didn’t go to what we planned, I think we were just expecting to gel like we did in the pre-season and I guess we just need to build on that.”

With a mixture of players away at Nationals or out for the week with illness, Tait said her team did a great job to overcome this and try new things with the girls they had.

“Our goal-shooter Dom Taylor was a big standout tonight. She dominated with her space and body use,

“At the start of the third quarter our usual wing-attack and vice-captain, Alanah, came on to goal-attack. She did a really good job and she doesn’t usually play goal-attack, it was just an extra feeder down the court which we needed.”

Tait feels that with an improved team dynamic and some set plays to pull out they can shake up the competition and come back from their most recent losses.

“We’re hoping top four, that’s the main goal, by working it back to what we were playing in the pre-season, hard fast netball. If we put our best team and efforts out in the match then I guess what’s the main focus for this season.”

City West Falcons (45) def by Peninsula Waves (54)

 

A steady lead throughout the entire match, Waves came back strong after a 24-goal loss to North East Blaze in Round 3.

Persistent in their pressure over the ball and more confident in their passes compared to last week, Waves took a 4-goal lead in the first quarter that only extended over the course of the match to achieve a 9-goal defeat over Falcons.

Once again, precision shooting was displayed by Wave’s goaler Jasmin Mackie who successfully shot 32 goals out of 35 goal attempts, an accuracy of 92%.