ONLY two teams remain unbeaten across all three Victorian Netball League divisions after another memorable night of action in round six.
Key personnel losses hurt Boroondara Genesis at the worst possible time, with their top-of-the-table Championship division clash against City West Falcons quickly becoming a fizzer.
Falcons are now the only Championship team yet to record a loss after blowing Genesis away 19-6 in the first quarter and coasting to a 54-37 win.
With regular goal shooter Emma Ryde-Coad in a moonboot on the sidelines, Genesis called on Division 1 goalers Sarah Yule (two goals from three attempts) and Shannon Gray (12 from 16) to partner Ashlee Howard (23 from 29), but with opposite number Kathleen Knott (32 from 40) nailing a whopping 17 goals in the first quarter, they were always up against it.
Falcons defenders Chloe Watson and Emily Mannix dominated in their return from Victoria’s 21 and Under nationals campaign and were named best on court.
Geelong Cougars’ resurgent start to the season is on shaky ground after they slumped to their third consecutive loss – a 38-55 result against Monash University Central.
The absence of former Melbourne Vixen Johannah Curran after quarter-time mattered little for Monash, who poured in 17 goals in the third quarter, while Cougars coach Gerard Murphy singled out poor decision making and missed opportunities in the first half as the reasons behind the team’s latest defeat.
Fed Uni Ballarat Pride put out their best performance of the season in a 57-44 loss to Peninsula Waves and showed signs that their first win can’t be far away.
Waves slowly built their advantage across the four quarters, with goal shooter Madeline Morrison (39 from 54) and wing attack Jessica Cox forming a lethal combination, while Birgitta Nemaric (27 from 31) barely missed for Pride and continued her improving partnership with goal attack Cindy Daniel.
Yarra Valley Grammar Ariels joined the logjam of teams of teams tapping on the top four after beating VU Western Lightning 52-40.
It was just the second time Ariels have scored more than 40 goals this season, with the bulk of the work done in the first half as goal shooter Sophie O’Shea (34 from 37) helped them jump out to a 52-40 lead.
Lightning may have felt the loss of goal keeper Fiona Themann, who has flown to Scotland to prepare to play with the country’s Commonwealth Games team, but it was the opposition defenders who caught the umpires’ attention, with Kaitlyn Black named best on court and Leah Reilly just behind her.
Southern Saints are back on the winners list after holding off a spirited DC North East Blaze 45-39.
With Vixens defender Amy Steel in the Saints line-up for the first time, they laid the foundation for the win with 27 goals to 14 in the second and third quarters.
Saints goal shooter Elizabeth Nicol stepped out of Division 1 for the first time this season and scored 30 from 34, while Sarah Wolff snapped up the three votes for her performance at wing attack.
SOUTHERN Saints’ Division 1 team will be eyeing off next week’s top-two clash with City West Falcons after dispatching DC North East Blaze with ruthless efficiency in round six.
Saints goalers Chloe Curran (33 from 37), Madeline White (10 from 10) and Emily Morris (three from six) scored on 46 of 35 attempts, while at the other end goal defence Ashleigh Hardy posted her third best-on-court performance in the 46-35 win.
Fed Uni Ballarat Pride came out firing against Peninsula Waves but couldn’t maintain the fight as they slumped to their sixth loss of the season.
Pride goal keeper Rachel Dovaston put in a performance that pleased her coaches but it wasn’t enough to stop Waves snapping a three-game losing streak, 47-34.
Falcons consigned Boroondara Genesis to a second consecutive loss for the first time in a long time as they continued their own unbeaten run.
Genesis were down two goalers on Championship duties and couldn’t match City West after half-time, with Falcons turning a 23-16 lead into a percentage-boosting 53-35 result.
Darcy Saunders (25 from 30) led the way for Falcons, while centre court pair Molly Jovic and Toni Lind both polled votes from the umpires.
Yarra Valley Grammar Ariels almost has its season back on track after beating VU Western Lightning 45-31 and securing a second win in three matches.
Rachel King (38 from 45) leapt to the top of the Division 1 shooting table after scoring 38 goals from 45 attempts as her team pulled away in the final quarter, scoring 13 goals to five to put the result beyond doubt.
Geelong Cougars welcomed back last year’s 19 and Under Hot Shot winner Ruby Horton for her second match this season and she didn’t disappoint, shooting 43 goals at 94 per cent accuracy as Cougars downed top four team Monash University Storm.
The margin grew each quarter as Storm battled to stem the flow of goals, while Cougars goal keeper Zoe Donne did her bit to keep her opposition to just seven goals in the first quarter and eight in the last.
19 AND UNDER
THE Victorian Netball League’s 19 and Under competition has been turned on its head, with the top two teams both going down in round six.
Ladder leaders Geelong Cougars lost their second match in a row after winning four on the trot to start the season, this time outclassed 47-35 by Monash University Storm.
Storm hadn’t lost since the opening round of the season and that run continued, with a second-half scoring blitz carrying them to another impressive result.
Geelong trailed by just three goals at half-time but Storm got rolling in the second half, with centre court combination Melissa Perez and Monique Tarrant handing plenty of ball to goalers Hannah Flanders (19 goals from 27 attempts) and Genna Grimmond (12 from 13)
Cougars coach Jill Leader said she threw a number of combinations at Monash in a bid to reverse the momentum but that her team was “simply outclassed”.
City West Falcons dropped a second game in three weeks after Boroondara Genesis finished on the right side of a one-goal thriller.
Falcons led at every break and by two goals at three-quarter time but were held to eight goals in the final 15 minutes. Genesis scored 11 to record a much-needed win, despite the efforts of City West goal defence Victoria Honner, who was named best on court.
Yarra Valley Grammar Ariels moved into second spot on the 19 and Under table after withstanding a mid-match fightback from VU Western Lightning.
Ariels led by as much as eight goals in the second quarter but Lightning clawed their way back into the match to trail by just one goal at three-quarter time.
An impressive game from goal defence Madeleine Toohey and accurate shooting from Rachel Smart (29 from 33) and Samantha Gooden (11 from 13) allowed Ariels to again pull clear for a 40-35 win, despite the best efforts of Lightning goal keeper Grace Rogers.
It was a Southern Saints sister act on court five, with twins Emma and Kate Smith dominant in their team’s big 49-29 victory over DC North East Blaze.
Blaze led 9-7 at quarter-time but a 16-7 second quarter swung the match in Saints’ favour and they were never headed, with Blaze giving court time to all 12 players in the second half.
Saints goal shooter Madeline McNab again proved a formidable target in the circle, netting 38 from 55.
Peninsula Waves sit outside the top four on percentage only after dealing Fed Uni Ballarat Pride a heavy 52-33 loss.
Pride took the game up to Waves in the first quarter and trailed 9-11 at quarter-time but gave up 17 goals to six in the second to make the task difficult.
They again came close to matching Waves in the final quarter but with Gabrielle Dwyer (22 from 27) and Mandy Hanegraaf (30 from 34) on fire for Peninsula, the result was never in doubt.