By Hugh Maclean
Listen back to this week’s Nothing But Net podcast, featuring Springvale Districts’ Lisa Fox as the special guest, in the player above.
ROUND 7 REVIEW
Round 7 of Division 1 netball saw the top four sides drawn to play the bottom four. The top four won as expected, but it was not always achieved without an almighty struggle.
The St Pauls clash with Caulfield was played without each side’s main attacking threat, with Sophie O’Shea and Grace Healey absent through VNL commitments. This didn’t bother Caulfield early, with Domica Wescombe and Tiffany McConnell intercepting anything they could reach and Beth Wilson finishing their work off well. Their seven-goal quarter time advantage was built on as St Pauls struggled to work through the Caulfield defence, numerous turnovers created by Caulfield’s all-court pressure. St Pauls weren’t helped by an ankle injury that put prime mover Adele Gilmore out of the second half, and lack of a tall foil for the consistently excellent Zoe Lythgo in the goal circle, but Caulfield ran too hard to be denied. A 60-29 scoreline was reflective of Caulfield’s dominance.
Heatherton were decimated by VNL calls, but the likes of Mia McMillan and Kirsty Mann provided amply capable replacements, and the premiers once more proved formidable opponents. A scrappy start gave way to a period of Heatherton dominance as they started to move the ball better than their foes to lead 11-5 at quarter time. The second quarter was City’s best of the game as Katie Lindqvist and Sophie Dunn worked hard to quell the black and white tide, while the calculating Chloe Ballard worked the circle well to give her shooters the opportunities to restrict the half time damage to 21-14. Heatherton began to hit the accelerator after half time, with McMillan and Leah Seeto hitting the scoreboard at will, and Kirsten Daley impassable at the other end. While St Kilda kept coming, as has been shown to be their way, Heatherton were a bit too polished in winning by 44-28.
If Heatherton had their staffing problems, Dingley’s were of epidemic proportions as no fewer than four reinforcements were called on from lower divisions. Their remodelled side took time to gel, and Hampton Park smelled the chance of their first four points of the season as they led 13-11 at the first change. The Division 2 pairing of Eleanor Douglas and Britt Goldsmith had their hands full but began to break even against the excellent attacking pair of Megan Egbers and Elly Anthony. Hampton Park would not allow Dingley anything easy as they went to half time only two goals down and three quarter time four. However, when they needed to start the last quarter well to make a stand, it was Dingley that put their feet down, and with Laura Piper and Sarah Fischer making the Redbacks pay Dingley pulled away to a 47-38 success.
Mordialloc took on Keysborough in a fascinating see-sawing battle in which Bianca Robinson struck early to propel Keysborough to a 4-1 lead. In a first quarter of numerous pushed passes and turnovers Mordialloc settled to restrict the quarter time damage to 10-9. Amy Gledhill had a brilliant second term in goal keeper to minimise the effectiveness of the Keysborough attack, and efficient ball movement gave Mordialloc enough chances to lead by three at half time, but Keysborough were anything but finished. An even third quarter gave opportunities to both sides, but while Mordialloc were profligate in their goal circle Robinson and Nicole Coats were deadly accurate for Keysborough, and leading by 28-27 at three quarter time their hopes of victory were high. Keysborough were on the board first in the final quarter, but with Lucy McKeown pulling in multiple defensive intercepts, and Emily Morris and Nicole Delany finding their range, Mordialloc were able to score a hard-fought 38-33 win.
Division 2 saw Cheltenham take on Caulfield in what could be an early preview of the grand final, although netball teams from Murrumbeena, Dingley and maybe Heatherton could have other ideas. After a brilliant display of cut and thrust netball it was Cheltenham that ascended to the top of the latter after a 47-44 win. Murrumbeena kept up the hunt and drew level with Caulfield on points, but ninth-placed Clayton made them work all the way for the points before succumbing by 33-32. Dingley Gold played South Yarra in the proverbial eight-point clash, and their 35-29 victory gives them a four-point break in the four. Dingley Red drew level with Heatherton in the chasing pack by beating them by 46-32 while the luckless Keysborough side finally got their first win after often going close, leaving Bentleigh winless by beating them by 42-38.
Dingley Gold fell to their first defeat of the season against third-placed St Kilda City. In another of the day’s many close battles, City stayed the course a little better and won by four, 36-32. Dingley Red sit between these two sides, having had to pull out all the stops before defeating last placed Lyndale by 35-29. Heatherton walloped struggling Bentleigh by 47-12 to take the final place in the four, just ahead of Black Rock who outpointed Cheltenham by 29-26. Elsewhere Caulfield consigned Mordialloc to their sixth defeat in seven with their 50-36 victory.
One of the best wins in the SFNL season came in Division 4, where Springvale Districts came from eleven goals down to win by one, 40-39 being the final score. Murrumbeena set the pace here, and they kept up the heat on those that would take their crown by belting eighth placed Mordialloc by 74-21. Heatherton Black beat their intra club rivals by 43-42 in the second of three one-point margins of the day to stay second, while Caulfield Yellow and CPL make up the four. Yellow beat CPL by the comparatively large margin of two (40-38), to take the advantage. Elsewhere, Caulfield Blue beat Hampton Park by 49-37, and South Yarra just beat the unluckily winless Keysborough by 45-44.
Oakleigh District continue to take all before them in Division 5. St Pauls were unable to arrest the charge as Oakleigh won by 41-20. This is a competition where three sides still with six wins out of six, with Aspendale (who beat Cheltenham by 46-28) and Dingley Gold (54-29 over Black Rock), still chasing Oakleigh close behind. Lyndhurst beat Dingley Red by 54-25, and East Brighton beat Highett by 55-26 to remain only one win behind the top three in a very close competition. St Kilda City 46 beat Heatherton 25 in the final match of the round.
Mordialloc Red are scoring at will in Division 6; today they registered 62 goals against St Kilda City, who could only manage 10 of their own as the Reds remained at the top of the tree. Lyndale were pushed to the finish by Mordialloc White before their 33-29 win gave them second spot, while Doveton beat Hallam by 50-21 to position themselves just nicely behind the top two. Clayton stay fourth having had little trouble in seeing off 11th placed Caulfield by 47-23, two points clear of a Keysborough side that were made to work all the way by South Yarra before winning by 34-31. Dingley claimed their first win of the season, leaving Bentleigh rooted to the foot of the table by beating them by 34-13.
Lyndhurst and Murrumbeena squared off in a battle between two sides that will feel that they will go a long way in Division 7 this year. It was Lyndhurst that ran their flag up the pole with a 44-26 win that took them to the top of the ladder. Dingley are the main challengers, also remaining unbeaten after despatching CPL by 56-26. Hampton had a similar win over Springvale Districts (56-27), to take third spot ahead of the aforementioned Murrumbeena. East Brighton, who drew level with Aspendale by beating them by 48-30, CPL and Heatherton (51-32 winners over Mount Waverley), are all a game out of the four and still well in this season. Doveton pulled clear of the bottom three by beating Cheltenham by 65-44 in an entertaining battle.
Hallam Red’s bye in Division 8 allowed Lyndhurst to overtake them at the top of the ladder with a 58-39 win over clubmates Hallam Yellow. Highett and Lyndale make up the four, registering wins over the bottom two sides. Highett beat Keysborough by 32-24, and Lyndale were too good for Oakleigh District by 38-23.
Don’t be fooled by the fact that this is our lowest division. Division 9 is well worth watching, with good standard netball being played in perfect spirit. Black Rock beat sixth placed Dingley by 32-16 to hold top spot from Heatherton, who were brought back to the pack by their 35-33 loss to Lyndhurst in fourth. South Yarra beat Springvale Districts Blue by 52-21 to take third place, while Springvale Districts Red kept up the chase by outplaying Clayton by 34-20.
After a week’s break the second half of the season begins with little certainty still over finals places. This shapes as the best season of SFNL season yet and continues to grow as a competition that we can all be proud of.