Teams thrive at Round 5 of the Bupa VNL

There was nothing but fierce competition on the agenda for Round 5 of the Bupa VNL Wednesday night. Teams took to Waverley Netball Centre and the State Netball and Hockey Centre to climb their way up the ladder which resulted in some unexpected losses and some surprising victories.

Want to know who to look out for as the season progresses? Keep reading to get all the news as to what went down this week at the Bupa VNL.


Wilson Storage Southern Saints (62) def Casey Demons (53)


Sneaking their way up the ladder this week were Southern Saints who took a thrilling win over Casey Demons.

Casey took a quick 3-point lead over Saints, but Saints weren’t staying down this week and came back to secure a 1-goal lead over Demons at half time.

A fiery contest through the midcourt was exciting to see Shannon Blackman from Casey on Shannon Freeman in Centre in the second half. There was a definite height advantage in Casey’s goaling third which made it more accessible to lob the ball in the goals, however down Saint’s goal end was constant movement to make each player available to pass to.

Creating opportunities down the court and sticking tight on Casey’s attackers allowed Saints to finish on a high in the final quarter and win by 9-goals to move up the ladder to 6th position.

Boroondara Express (48) def Ariels (44)


Finally securing their first 2019 win, Boroondara brought the contest to Ariels to make for a tight competition between the two.

Ariels shooting with 75% accuracy over the match and Boroondara with 73%, the difference between the end result came down to the midcourt abilities from both sides. Boroondara’s motivation for a win was highlighted in their first quarter as they took a 3-goal lead. Ariels determination brought them back in front for the second quarter and a back and fourth game tied the scores 36-all in the third.

A standout final quarter from Boroondara saw them take their 4-goal win with pride to boost their confidence going into their Round 6 match against Geelong Cougars next week.

Peninsula Waves (41) def by Hawks Netball (52)


Playing with heightened conviction after their win against Lightning last week, Hawks found themselves snatching their second win in a row against Waves in Round 5.

Hawks took a commanding lead in the first quarter and were able to maintain it over the course of the match, demonstrating their strength to respond to everything Waves threw at them. Hawks were able to let the ball go strategically and think about the movements to better optimise their receiving of the ball.

Waves’ mid-court coordination was strong but their defence lacked the intensity needed to compete with Hawks’ Nat Billings and force needed turnovers. An 11-goal win for the Hawks puts them in a good position heading into the match against Ariels next week.

Geelong Cougars (59) def Melbourne University Lightning (39)


Cougars made an unexpected two-spot jump up the ladder this week from 4th to 2nd, winning their fourth contest of the season.

A runaway win for Geelong, they increased their 7-goal first quarter lead to 20-points by the end of the match. Much like their Round 1 match against Ariels, Cougars played a calm and controlling game to establish a firm, hard to beat lead.

Unfortunately for Lightning, it was their inconsistency that got the best of them this week despite the tough defence from Fiona Fowler and Gabby Coffey.

North East Blaze (53) def by City West Falcons (55)


In a fight for 1st place on the competition ladder, the two undefeated Championship teams, Blaze and Falcons, took to the State Netball Centre to see who really deserved to be on top.

Despite dominating the first half with synergy, decisive throws and brilliant transitioning, Blaze couldn’t keep their consistency. This allowed Falcons to take a two-point lead and ultimate win.

Elle McDonald from Blaze commented on her team’s performance of the night.

“It was disappointing to go down by 2-points in the end but overall it was a pretty well contested game as it always is against Falcons,

“We had our opportunities but we just didn’t capitalise in the end.”

The height and accuracy of Falcons’ goaler, Jini Sivalingam, helped Falcons to secure goals with almost every turnover which McDonald described as a key factor to Falcons success.

“When you’ve got such a dominant, tall goaler that’s such a big target you’ve really got to work hard defensively through the mid court as well to try to stop it before it gets down to their goalers,

“At Blaze we’re very lucky to have those A-grade coaches, Kate Upton and Kelly Lambert, so I’m sure they out a lot of work in behind the scenes analysing the Falcons game-play.”

Despite missing out this week, McDonald looks forward to what the competition will bring for her team and 2019.

“That competitive game that we get each week it’s really exciting and I think with Blaze we’re hopefully going to be up there coming into finals,

“Ultimately I just want to be part of that and as we did a couple of years ago hopefully take it out and go as far as we can.”

Division One

Wilson Storage Southern Saints (53) drew Casey Demons (53)


With the second draw of the 2019 season, a clash of the Saints and Demons provided a jaw dropping contest you couldn’t take your eyes off.

Casey took the lead in the first half exhibiting succinct passing in each third. Saints, yet to have a win this season, weren’t backing off without a fight though. In the third quarter they closed the 5-point margin to a mere 1-point difference to enter the final quarter.

Precision goaling from Saints, Hayley Matthews not missing a single shot, gave them the security to know if they could force a turnover they might come snatch a lead.

Determination from both teams saw a goal-for-goal last quarter that rewarded the efforts of both squads with a 53-all draw to finish the match, and confirmation of an intense game the next time Saints and Demons face each other in Round 16.

Boroondara Express (62) def Ariels (38)


Dominance has been Boroondara’s clearest talent in wins over the season that has demonstrated the importance of a powerful first quarter lead. Boroondara’s drive for the ball outplayed Ariels this week despite Ariels ability to speed up game pace to shift their momentum and catch their opponent off guard.

Doubling Ariels score of 16 at half time, Boroondara played a well contested and consistent four-quarter match to more than triple Ariels final score at the end of the game, 62-38.

Peninsula Waves (33) def by Hawks Netball (54)


Taking Hawks Netball’s second win for the club was their Division One girls who are recognised competitors in their section.

A close contested first quarter saw a 10-all score. Hawks picked up the pace in the second quarter to draw Waves into their style of play and snatch a 5-goal advantage going into the second half.

Waves continued efforts to the ball were evident but their slower pace couldn’t match the Hawks who kicked their communication and tactical thinking into overdrive in the second half to take out a 21-goal win and secure their 2nd place ladder position for another week.

Geelong Cougars (59) def Melbourne University Lightning (57)


2018 Runners Up, Geelong, continued to show their strength in the competition as they took out their fourth win of the season.

Having had a slow start to the season, Lightning struck hard on Wednesday to take a 3-goal lead in the first quarter. This lead turned in favour of Cougars at the end of the second quarter, foreshadowing a final half of pure intensity from both sides.

Turnovers from both goal ends, a result of equally matched defenders from the two sides, saw the score tie up at 45-all heading into the final quarter.

As seen in previous weeks, Lightning were able to position themselves with purpose down the court, however some last-minute turnovers and Cougars ability to capitalise with every play helped them closely come out on top.

North East Blaze (68) def City West Falcons (47)


A force to be reckoned with, an undefeated Blaze cleaned up their fifth win in a row against City West Falcons this week.

Consistency in Blaze’s strategic skill to predict passes helped them gain a 14-point advantage at the end of the first half. Despite Falcons clear communication on court, a boost in Blaze’s defence over the court surprised Falcons and made for striking intercepts and a 21-goal win.

Falcons will fight for their second win of the season against Saints next week, as Blaze attempt to remain undefeated when they face Casey Demons.

19 & Under

Wilson Storage Southern Saints (59) def Casey Demons (31)


Having not seen a victory since Round 1 in Bendigo, Saints came out blazing on Wednesday to prove why they should not be underestimated in the Bupa VNL competition. Casey, yet to have a win in 2019, also entered the match with a point to prove.

Learning from their defeat against Cougars last week, Saints played a much less rushed and much more composed contest that saw them passing to one another with ease.

A 10-goal lead in the first quarter, Saints confidence had clearly climbed and as they played a match much similar to that of their pre-season games with strong transition between the thirds and talk all down the court.

Despite determination from Demons to come back in the second half and catch Saints’ midcourt off-guard sticking tightly to their players, Saints dominated over four quarters without fatigue gave them a well-deserved second win of the season, 59-31.

Boroondara Express (45) def by Ariels (58)


Ariels were not ready to give away their top spot title this week as they took yet another convincing win, this time against Boroondara Express.

A standout first quarter for Ariels saw them causing turnovers left, right and centre. From the very first centre pass, Ariels attackers were driving hard and fast to the ball as Boroondara found themselves fumbling the ball and missing key opportunities, a result of Ariels decisive defence work.

Ariels possessing a 12-goal advantage in the first quarter gave them the lead they needed to play a calm and composed match, highlighting their ability to control the pace of a match no matter the opponent.

Despite a fighting spirit to come back over the second half of the match, it was too little too late for Boroondara who lost, 45-58, their second loss of 2019.

Peninsula Waves (39) def by Hawks Netball (40)


Hawk Netball’s winning streak for the night all started with their 19 & Under team who narrowly took a 1-goal win in the last seconds of their match against Peninsula Waves.

Waves, who had an advantage in the number of matches won this season, entered the match with the same ferocity we’ve seen all season. Hawks must have been taking notes on this as they matched Waves’ intensity to match every goal they made, scores level at the end of the first quarter.

The synergy between Jasmin Mackie and Georgia Hernan in Waves’ goal end was electric, Jasmin maintaining the 92% shooting accuracy we saw from her last week.

With very little in the score throughout the entire match, Hawks’ unbreakable defence and tight transitions down the court saw them just get up on Waves and lift their spirits with one more win on under the belt.

Geelong Cougars (48) def by Melbourne University Lightning (55)


Lightning’s consistency continued this week after a confident win against Hawks Netball in Round 4. Dominance was Lightning’s game plan as they took a commanding 4-goal lead over Cougars in the first quarter, which only increased over the course of the match.

Cougars brought a convincing fight with tough to beat defenders, Sophie Shoebridge and Ellen Doyle, taking some impressive intercepts. However, with Lightning’s star goaler, Claire Oakley, scoring a whopping 40 goals for her team and her team mates’ precise execution of centre pass plays and feeding passes, Cougars fell short.

Lightning’s 7-goal win against Cougars makes it their fourth of the season and puts them 2nd place on the ladder, one spot above 3rd placed Cougars.

North East Blaze (36) def by City West Falcons (55)


Falcons played a game of netball built on teamwork that secured them a much-needed win after last week’s loss to Peninsula Waves.

Returning to the court after her Nationals campaign was mid-court player Emma Walters. Both on and off the court it was clear she was keen to be back with her VNL girls.

“I love all the girls and it’s so good to be back playing with them. Just felt like back at the start of the season and it was awesome, it was so, so good!”

A strong start from Falcons and opportunistic play gave them the upper hand of the match that they needed which allowed them to control the speed of the ball between each other.  

“We started off really strong,” Walters said. “We came out, we had our goals and did them really well and I think that’s what gave us a really good start, 

“We had a target goal, and to keep them to a certain goal as well, which was awesome. We came out with heaps of talk and all our systems and that’s what got us through.”

 Down their attack end, decisive passing resulted in some striking ball movement that allowed them to claim a sizable lead that was consistent over the course of the match, finishing on top 55-36.

Already a team known to capitalise during a game, Walters hinted at some new strategic plays Falcons are trailing that might be something to keep an eye on throughout 2019.

“We’ve got the basics under control it’s more about coming together, knowing each other’s plays so we can polish off each game, 

“We have this one centre pass where we do a screen for the goal attack and it worked once and looked good,

“We definitely want to make finals and keep winning and build from there.”

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