Netball Semi Finals Review
By Hugh Maclean and Steph Smarelli
Dingley v Heatherton
The seconds were called out and the bell went for round two between the old rivals, and as so often happens in title fights, the underdog gave one almighty yelp. In this clash of the titans, the bark of the underdog was not worse than its bite. Heatherton is first into the grand final of 2019.
This was a coaching performance of epic proportions from Kelly Horton. Heatherton was able to do what no other club has this season. They played a sliding defensive formation, sitting slightly back off the ball and moving laterally across the court to stifle the run and ball movement of their Dingley opponents. The tactic worked wonderfully well as Dingley’s ball movement, normally so fast and certain, was slowed and curtailed as they tried valiantly to find a way through the mid-court. When the ball was turned over, as it was somewhat more frequently than is normally the case, the creative force led by Kate Kelly-Oman, Kali Dolphin and Courtney Osborne provided a plethora of opportunities and Lauren Spinks, as though taking vehement offence at having had to play second fiddle to Emma Ryde, finished surely and often. For the Heatherton supporters and neutrals alike, it was pretty to watch.
There was little hint of what was to come at quarter time. Dingley began smartly enough – there were opportunities at both ends, Ella Quinlan was in good shooting touch and slick interplay between Shae Wonnacott and Monique Lenehan-Moustafa created good space. Even at this stage there were signs that Heatherton had come prepared for war, but at 10-6 Dingley’s way you wondered whether the minor premiers had taken Heatherton’s best shot and emerged relatively unscathed. The second quarter proved otherwise, and it only took five minutes for the Tunners to take the lead as the landscape changed completely. Dingley were being strangled, and Heatherton were in no mood to let them off the hook. As the wind and rain began to play a part in proceedings they began to put a bit of space between themselves and their foe, and a 19-13 half time lead was no less than what they deserved.
As Dingley found themselves in unfamiliar territory you expected that they would respond like cornered tigers and come roaring back into the contest, but you can only play as well as your opponent allows. Heatherton’s defence has been an impregnable force for much of 2019, and with Karli Foster vying for best-on-court honours and Tegan Stephenson throwing herself into every contest and often found sprawled on the ground as a result, today was no exception. Dingley huffed and puffed but were unable to blow the house down, while Heatherton scored almost at will when they brought the ball into their goal circle. With Dingley kept to just seven goals in the middle two quarters, a three-quarter time scoreline of 29-17 looked decisive. And so it proved in a final quarter contest that was just as competitive as the first, but somehow seemed anti-climactic. Dingley threw whatever punches they still had at Heatherton, but the bird had long since flown. The final scoreline of 38-26 was as comprehensive as it was reflective of the day’s proceedings.
Dingley had been undefeated to this point, and have had answers for every challenge put to them. They also have one of the SFNL’s eminent netball minds as their coach, and he will not have been happy with the events of the day. Dingley are more than capable of bouncing back next week and claiming a grand final berth, but they will have been rattled by their game plan being picked apart. And they will face a determined opponent as well...
Heatherton 38 (Lauren Spinks 25, Beth Wilson 13) defeated Dingley 26 (Ella Quinlan 16, Monique Lenehan-Moustafa 10)
Oakleigh District v Mordialloc
The black and white took on the red and white knowing that Dingley awaited the winner at the next turn for the victor, and that there were no excuses for the vanquished. If this seemed like a recipe for a tense battle of wills, this feisty and occasionally testy affair did not disappoint.
The early exchanges saw Mordialloc content to be patient with their passing game, happy to wait for the right opportunity to probe an Oakleigh defence that they considered to be stronger in the air than at ground level. Both mid-court attacking weapons, Jess de Garis and Jerzie Vernall worked hard to gain an advantage, but they found themselves matched by a well organised Oakleigh trio who looked to move the ball quickly and decisively to exploit their height advantage in the goal circle. Once inside Mordialloc were unable to find an answer for the height and accuracy of Ella Batish, a story that was to play out through the whole match, and Oakleigh skipped to an early 14-8 lead.
The game started to move into a holding pattern in the second term, with twenty goals evenly shared as the six goal lead was held to half time, but it’s at this point that the match came to life. Kaylah Loulanting got the scoring underway for Mordialloc and Batish quickly replied, but Mordialloc rallied to score the next five goals to trail by only one at 25-24. They were, however, unable to achieve parity as their shooting efficiency began to desert them. Oakleigh, or more specifically Ella Batish, went on a similar run of five straight to lead by 30-24, but as quickly as Mordialloc’s shooters lost confidence, they now found it again to come roaring back into the contest. The tempo was frenetic as Gabby Dwyer missed a difficult shot seconds before three-quarter time, and as Caity de Garis collected the rebound and sent Mordialloc into attack for Emily Morris to convert, the margin was again trimmed to one and 30-29 became the three-quarter time score.
Mordialloc’s coach Sophie Durnan passionately exhorted her troops to believe that the game could be won whilst the Oakleigh huddle looked rather the calmer. Mordialloc’s best chance was to start the quarter with momentum but they conceded the first two goals. This became six of the first seven as the Oaks streaked away to a decisive 36-30 lead. The Reds had no answer to the bullet-like passes of best-on-court Maggie Carlon and the industry of the hard-working Bayley Mifsud and Hayley Burnett, and while Oakleigh finished their work unerringly Mordialloc were nowhere near as sure. Although they twice closed to within three goals the gap could not be bridged. Mordialloc’s season of what could have been drew to a close, and Oakleigh lived to fight another day.
Oakleigh District 38 (Ella Batish 37, Gabby Dwyer 1) defeated Mordialloc 35 (Kaylah Loulanting 18, Emily Morris 12, Nicole Delany 5)
Caulfield v Heatherton
Caulfield looked like they were going to coast to a grand final spot in this clash, winning the first two quarters by two goals each and the third term by four. They had to withstand a withering burst by a Heatherton side that refused to lie down before they were able to do so however, and indeed were very happy for the siren to sound when it did.
Julie Masterson took the responsibility of stopping Heatherton’s main weapon Olivia Morris, and did a more than serviceable job for the first three quarters. The sterling service given to her by the likes of Holly Garac and Steph Peacock began to wear Caulfield down in the final term, to the point that their eight goal advantage was whittled down to only two but the clock was not kind to the chaser. Jemima Price and Sarah McDermott were excellent all day for a Caulfield side that thoroughly deserved to be first into the decider, but will know that they cannot afford any slip up in two weeks time against an opponent that knows how to get the job done in August, whoever that opponent will be.
Caulfield 42 (Lynne Moyes 29, Caitlyn Ashby 11, Rebecca Smith 2) defeated Heatherton 40 (Olivia Morris 34, Mia McMillan 5, Acacia Quinn 1)
Murrumbeena v Oakleigh District
In a final where both sides were missing key personnel, this shaped as a battle that would be won by the side that had the better depth to cover the cracks. For Murrumbeena this meant playing key tall defender Paris Tatter in attack, which rather weakened a strength by strengthening a weakness. In contrast, the Oakleigh side all knew their roles and played them to a tee. The Oaks were greater than the sum of their parts, and were too strong for Murrumbeena.
The damage was done before the main break. A 9-3 first quarter advantage was parlayed into a 22-10 half time lead for Oakleigh, and although Murrumbeena struck back hard in the third term on the back of sterling efforts from Eliza Barnes and Jessica Ryan, the experience of Teena Mifsud and the youthful exuberance of Haylee Krepp in the shooting circle ensured that there was no way back. Heatherton thus play Oakleigh District in the preliminary final; two sides that know each other well and will be hell bent on victory.
Oakleigh District 40 (Teena Mifsud 27, Haylee Krepp 13) defeated Murrumbeena 30 (Jessica Ryan 21, Paris Tatter 9)
Murrumbeena v South Yarra
Murrumbeena were first into the grand final in division three, but needed to stage a recovery of Lazarus proportions to do so. South Yarra looked the better side for most of the day as they shut down Murrumbeena’s vaunted mid-court with manic intensity and clinical precision, and when the ball got to the goal circle they found Megan O’Hurley in deadly shooting form, even in the worst of the conditions. The Lionesses conversely could make little work as they seemed to be waiting for things to happen rather than making the play themselves.
South Yarra led by 12-7 at the first change and 20-12 at the second. There was little indication that the Yarras would be overrun, and yet late in the third term the tide began to turn. There were few on the court in the maroon and gold better than Jarrah Thomson, and in the final term Melanie Robinson joined her as a scoring threat. They were able to get better supply as the game wore on, and when Jarrah Thomson gave Murrumbeena the lead for the first time in the final minute, it was enough to propel them into the decider for what will be this side’s tilt at a sixth straight premiership, in both junior and senior competition.
Murrumbeena 37 (Jarrah Thomson 30, Melanie Robinson 7) defeated South Yarra 36 (Megan O’Hurley 23, Jessie Hardess 13)
St Kilda City v Doveton Eagles
Any division three side that plays Doveton Eagles knows that they are in for one heck of a battle. Add into the mix the desperation that comes with an elimination final and the effect is magnified. Doveton certainly didn’t disappoint – they brought with them an intensity and drive that would have won them many a final. However, this was a match against a St Kilda City side hell bent on redemption after their runner-up mantle in 2018. They weren’t about to fall at the initial hurdle.
Erin Wolffenbuttel has been a constant thorn in the side of many an opponent this year, and here again she was the main threat for the Eagles. City directed a lot of their attacking traffic through goal attack Frances Walker, and she rewarded them with 28 goals. They established a six goal break in the first term, and as so often happens to teams that have to play catch-up, Eagles were unable to score without leaving space in their defence to exploit. Despite the best efforts of the likes of Taylah Howie in the centre and the desperate Jasmin Wilson in defence, City’s all-court team effort was enough to ensure that they increased their lead at every break.
St Kilda City 40 (Frances Walker 28, Rose Barr 8, Darcie Chadwick 4) defeated Doveton Eagles 24 (Erin Wolffenbuttel 18, Shonalene San Jose 6)
Carrum-Patterson Lakes v East Brighton
Another epic battle between the two division four pace-setters ended with East Brighton repeating their round twelve success. As they did in round twelve however, the CPL ladies will have left the court thinking that a win over their close rivals is still very much achievable. East Brighton took the early lead, in front by 14-8 at quarter time and extending the lead to 27-18 by the half. Although CPL won both quarters after half time it was only by two each quarter; not enough to get the job done as East Brighton rolled to a 47-42 victory and a second successive grand final appearance.
The win owed plenty to the fact that the Vampires were quick out of the blocks, forcing CPL to come from behind and force passes, ultimately to their detriment. The defensive pressure brought by the likes of Elysia Davis and Madeleine Fricker was pivotal to East Brighton’s success, but when they got it right you could amply see why CPL took the minor premiership. CPL were able to get a good share of the ball after quarter time, but East Brighton were the more dangerous when they were in possession, and Felicity Dawkins’ 41 goals could not be ignored. Both Kimberly Harrison and Jess Cook had serviceable games for CPL, but in the final wash East Brighton were too strong.
East Brighton 47 (Felicity Dawkins 41, Renee Joe-Hohaia 6) defeated CPL 42 (Kimberly Harrison 24, Jessica Cook 18)
Springvale Districts v Mordialloc
Springvale came into this match riding high after a superb attacking display did for the minor premiers in their round fifteen clash. Mordialloc also hit the court fearing no-one, and this made for a stirring battle. The first quarter was somewhat of a grind as both sets of shooters took time to come to terms with the tricky conditions and ball movement was made difficult by the wind and the finals pressure in equal measures. Districts made the better of the tricky day in the first term, taking a two goal lead to the first break. The second term continued the slug fest, with the defences in control as each side thrust and parried. A scoreline of 12-11 suggested that there would be little between the two sides for the day.
The key to the result was Mordialloc coach Janine Black’s decision to move Montana O’Brien into the goal circle. The move bore immediate fruit with Mordialloc’s 100-gamer Catherine Ferguson instrumental in loading the bullets for O’Brien to fire. The first portion of the third quarter was all Mordialloc and whilst Kayla Schuts hit back with six goals of her own before the final change, the decisive break was made. Springvale threw everything at Mordialloc in the final stanza and with Lesina Lalotoa and Lisa Fox keeping things quiet at their defensive end, another three minutes could have seen a very different result. It wasn’t to be though, and Mordialloc move through to the preliminary final next week.
Mordialloc 28 (Montana O’Brien 13, Kelsie le Breton 9, Janine Black 7) defeated Springvale Districts 26 (Kayla Schuts 18, Nioka Kirby 5, Lisa Fox 3)
Caulfield v Doveton Eagles
The Mumma Bears from Caulfield brought all their big match experience to this battle with Doveton Eagles, and were never in any serious threat of defeat as they booked their place in another competition decider. The early efforts of Jude Glenny and Janine Olivier in keeping the Eagles to two goals only in the first quarter set the game up, and thirty goals from Jodie Brown finished the game off. In between though there were few weak links in the Caulfield chain.
The Eagles were beset by some late withdrawals, leaving them without a bench. They worked hard in defence and certainly made Caulfield earn every goal, but they were dominated in the middle of the court leading to a multitude of chances while the Eagles attackers were restricted to feeding off scraps. Doveton ran Caulfield close in the second and fourth quarters but it was the third term that really did the damage. From a manageable nine goal half time deficit Doveton were restricted to four third quarter goals while Caulfield registered fifteen at the other end. There was no coming back from that, although the Eagles gave themselves plenty to be encouraged about for next week from their fourth stanza effort.
Caulfield 44 (Jodie Brown 30, Samantha Dix 8, Barbara Traeger 6) defeated Doveton Eagles 22 (Emma Barry 12, Sophie Miller 6, Melinda Wilson 4)
Lyndhurst v Aspendale Arrows
Lyndhurst came storming home at the end of the home and away season, only falling just short of the double chance and giving themselves a firm platform going into the elimination final. The young Aspendale Arrows side has been around the top four for the whole season and will have learned a lot about themselves over the year. Hopefully they will be stronger for this experience, but they were never in the hunt in this match.
With main shooter Melissa Mair absent the Arrows may have thought that they wouldn’t have to cope with their greatest danger. However, Mya Potroz had other ideas. She got stronger and more confident as the match went on and a 34 goal haul was testament to the match that she played, but there was more to this match than the Lyndhurst attack. Clare Field and Aleysha King shared goal keeper duties and both did wonderful jobs, whilst in Linda Ross they had the dominant mid-courter on the day. Hard as the likes of Charlotte Davis and Ashleigh Johnson tried to gain a foothold, the finals experience of the Lightning side was too much for Aspendale to counter, and by the time they were able to almost double their tally in the final term the game had already gone.
Lyndhurst 43 (Mya Potroz 34, Clare Waite 9) defeated Aspendale Arrows 19 (Eleanor Andrew 11, Caitlyn Burke 5, Kate Yass 3)
Heatherton v Murrumbeena
Having finished eight points clear at the top of the ladder, few if any SFNL netball watchers expected Heatherton to have too much trouble taking the first grand final position. Considering that they had handed Murrumbeena a 24 goal defeat at their last meeting, that impression was strengthened. The only thing with that was nobody told the Murrumbeena girls.
Ten goals from captain Sarah Borland at goal attack allied with six from Briony Hill gave Murrumbeena a surprise nine goal quarter time lead. Heatherton knew they had a big hill to climb and came out meaning business for the second term, but only reduced the deficit by one. It was after half time that Heatherton were taken out of any lethargy that they may have felt, and with Mandy Quinn leading the mid-court expertly and Verity Sheppard starting to shoot with deadly accuracy Heatherton drew level just on three quarter time. Unfortunately the dangerous Sheppard was hampered with an ankle injury, and the exertion of gaining a share of the lead flattened the minor premiers for the run home, and Murrumbeena were once more able to pull away for a famous victory.
Murrumbeena 43 (Sarah Borland 29, Holly Bryden 8, Briony Hill 6) defeated Heatherton 38 (Verity Sheppard 27, Vanessa Pope 11)
Parkdale Vultures v St Kilda City
Well as the Vultures played in the first quarter here, the rest of the match went all St Kilda City’s way as their introduction to SFNL finals turned from gold dust to dirt. The experience and smarts of Billie Nukunuku in collecting 32 goals from three quarters, Tui Bristowe at wing defence in the second half, and Kittyanna Verghese in defence helped the rest of the team through the tough spots and into a convincing victory.
City were kept to four goals by stern defenders Molly Warner and Lily McKenzie in the first quarter, but Parkdale may have missed a trick in not registering more than seven themselves. The St Kilda shooters began to find their range in the second term as they took the lead in the late stages, and really began to put their foot down after the half time break. Little by little the Saints took control, and with the score at 29-22 at the final change the game was City’s to lose. There was no way back for Parkdale, and the final margin of 42-27 accentuated the City superiority after quarter time.
St Kilda City 42 (Billie Nukunuku 32, Sally Saunders 10) defeated Parkdale Vultures 27 (Briedi Gibson 16, Georgie Tierney 10, Taryn Macbeth 1)
Hampton continued their unbeaten run and secured a spot in the Division 7 grand final with their 10-goal win against South Yarra.
South Yarra will go head to head with Heatherton who came out on top against Springvale Districts by nine goals.
Dingley has locked in place a grand final appearance in Division 8 with a comfortable 18-goal victory over South Yarra.
South Yarra will come up against Cheltenham in the preliminary final after the side defeated Dandenong in a tight contest by two goals.
Not wanting to let Division 7 have all the fun, Hampton’s Division 9 team booked themselves a spot in a grand final after trouncing Hampton Park by 13 goals.
Hampton Park will go up against Murrumbeena who won their semi-final against the Parkdale Vultures by a landslide 40 goals.
Despite being the lowest division, Division 10 produced a showdown between Oakleigh District and Clayton. Only two goals separated the teams with Oakleigh District heading to the grand final while Clayton will have to play again on Saturday.
Clayton will battle Hampton in the preliminary final with Hampton defeating Hampton Park by 21 goals.