SFL YMCA Monash Netball Grand Finals
After 15 gruelling rounds of the season, two weeks of epic finals and plenty of blood sweat and tears, Grand Final day has finally arrived.
SFL Journalists Will Hunter and Andrew Paloczi take a closer look at all teams involved.
Division 1 / Will Hunter
12.15pm – Dingley v Heatherton
For the third consecutive year Dingley and Heatherton will play off in the decider to claim the SFL YMCA Monash Netball Division One premiership.
Both the Dingoes and the Tunners have been the two standout teams in the competition this year, finishing first and second on the table.
Dingley began the year in scintillating style, winning its first four games including massive victories over Carrum Patterson Lakes (61 to 17) and Black Rock (65 to 17).
They booked their spot in the decider after a convincing 52 to 34 win over the Tunners in the semi final, which was arguably their best performance so far.
The Tunner’s road to the Grand Final hasn’t been as smooth as Dingley’s, although they did start the year in a similar fashion. They opened their account with five consecutive wins, but then lost matches periodically over the next nine weeks and struggled for consistency.
After a disappointing semi final loss, they then produced their gutsiest performance of the year. Up against Bentleigh in the preliminary final last week, a side they had not beaten all season, Heatherton prevailed by the barest of margins in an absolute cliff-hanger.
Dingley seems to match up well against the Tunners. Of their two meetings during the home and away season, Dingley recorded two resounding victories over their local rivals. However, this is no guarantee of victory on the biggest stage.
The big question is can Dingley go back to back? Or will Heatherton pull off a remarkable win against the odds? Either way, this Grand Final is sure to be one for the ages.
Division 2 / Will Hunter
11.00am – Dingley v Heatherton
The SFL YMCA Monash Division Two Grand Final will be a carbon copy of the Division One decider, with local rivals Heatherton and Dingley set to fight it out for the title.
Like their comrades in the higher grade, both the Tunners and the Dingoes have been the two best sides all year in Division Two, and by some margin, too.
Both clashes between Heatherton and Dingley during the season were tight affairs with the two sides sharing the honours. The Tunners drew first blood in round seven, winning a nail-biter by just one solitary goal. Dingley exacted revenge in their return match in round 14, with a thrilling 35 to 32 victory.
Heatherton have handy attackers in Mia McMillan and Elise Boyd, but their defensive structure is what sets them apart from the rest. They conceded a miserly 285 goals during their 15 regular season games – the best in Division Two by a country mile.
Dingley on the other hand have scored more goals than any other team this year and average more than 40 goals a game. Sarah Fischer, the Division Two league best and fairest winner last season, and Cass Fogarty have combined to become the most feared attacking combination in the competition.
Very little has separated these two sides all season, and it’s a safe bet that this Grand Final will also be going down to the wire. Expect to see fireworks on court as Dingley and Heatherton fight tooth and nail for Division Two supremacy.
Division 3 / Andrew Paloczi
11.00am - Clayton v Dingley
Clayton had to be content with second place behind Dingley at the end of the regular season, but the Clays issued a strong statement in their semifinal clash with the Dingoes, charging through to the premiership decider with a 26 to 15 win.
Clayton are a well-balanced team, and spread the goals around during the season. Three of its players topped the 100-goal mark, with Savhan Poihipi leading the way with 138. Chloe Pearce has been a valuable member of the defence and is highly regarded for her ability to read the play and to intercept the opposition’s passes.
Clayton captain Cassie Townley spoke of the excitement she and her teammates were feeling as they got together for their grand final luncheon, "We are looking forward to the grand final, either way, win or lose, we are proud to have come this far this season.”
Dingley had to overcome the disappointment of a semifinal loss in order to win its preliminary final against Cheltenham. Jessica Haslem has been a standout for the Dingoes with 226 goals during the regular season. She combines great skills with super speed.
Dingley’s netball coordinator, Mandy Wonnacott outlines the close-knit nature of the girls at Dingley, "We as a club want to be successful across all levels, but we want more for the girls to have that sense of belonging and comradeship.”
Looking ahead to the grand final, Wonnacott says, “Win, lose or draw next week, the Dingo netballers are very united and proud to be part of such a great club.”
This should be a great game between two strong teams, and is likely to be in the balance late in the fourth quarter.
Division 4 / Andrew Paloczi
10.00am - Doveton Eagles v St Kilda City
Doveton is one victory away from completing the perfect season and the scene is set for an exciting grand final contest with St Kilda City. The City players put the disappointment of a semi final loss to the Eagles behind them, bouncing back to win in a tight preliminary final against Black Rock.
The Eagle’s captain coach, Melinda Wilson is proud of what the team has accomplished in its foundation year. She says, “To say the team has exceeded anything I could have imagined is an understatement. We have built a team on friendship first and foremost, which is reflected on court with every team member willing to put themselves on the line for their teammates.
Standout shooter, Sherridan Murphy amassed the impressive total of 227 goals for the Eagles during the regular season, and the skipper was also on target for them with 153. They will be determined to show that their shooting accuracy holds up on the big day, under grand final pressure.
For St Kilda City, Emma Suttill was the top goal scorer during the season, with a total of 103. She is a tall target in front of goal and the Eagles will have to work hard to contain her while Katie Nurse has impressed with her steady improvement during her first season of netball. A premiership would be a stunning reward for her efforts.
The Eagles are a focused and skilful side and City will need to be at its best to cause an upset, but grand final day always offers the promise of drama and surprise.
Be sure to read the full previews of all SFL YMCA Monash Netball Grand Finals in this week’s Record.