SFNL Netball Round Reviews brought to you by yellow tail wines.
By Hugh Maclean
July 2 rolled around. Australia went to elect a Prime Minister (well at least it tried), and just as with the House of Representatives, the battle for top billing in Division 1 of the SFNL netball is at this stage too close to call.
We may have a clearer idea by next Saturday evening (in both the football and the politics), after Dingley play Heatherton. For the time being Heatherton have maintained their slender lead over the chasing pack, by percentage only over a Dingley side that lost to Heatherton in Round 1 and haven’t bothered to do so since. Keysborough in third have shown enough to suggest that they are capable of upsetting the applecart should the stars align, their ball movement when they are at their best being amongst the best in the competition, whilst Caulfield have been most impressive in their introduction to Division 1. The obvious strength for Caulfield is in their shooting, but they have shown a welcome tendency to press their opponents all over the court and not concede any easy ball to their foe. Such teams cannot be taken lightly.
With five rounds remaining it is difficult to see either of the other sides breaking into the four, and yet they may still play a big part in shaping the fortunes of the sides above them. St Kilda City has shown signs of welcome improvement over recent weeks. Well coached, young and fit, their best work has often been done early in matches before their higher-credentialled opponents have been able to break them down. Bentleigh have not given any side an easy time of it, and while they haven’t brought many points back with them to Arthur Street, they have shown that they are only a player or two, and a years’ experience for their younger brigade, away from really challenging the sides above.
This week Keysborough defeated Bentleigh by 40-28 in a game where they led by only two points at the first change, but the strength of their defence and the reliability of their attacking players allowed them to increase their advantage throughout the day. Conversely, St Kilda City jumped out of the blocks well against Heatherton, leading at quarter time before conceding the initiative and the lead in the second term, going to half time ten goals down. After a tight third term it was in the last quarter that Heatherton really did some damage on the scoreboard, finally running out victors by 61-45. Dingley took control in the first half, establishing a 20-point lead mainly through a very strong defensive display. Caulfield hit back hard in a high-quality third quarter, with both sides putting in some great passing movements and intercepting skilfully, but they could not reel in the lead with Dingley running out 63-42 winners.
The outstanding side in Division 2 is Heatherton, who have established a 12-point lead at the top of the table. They continued their unbeaten run, having little trouble with a handy Bentleigh side. While both sides moved the ball slickly and surely, the difference was that Bentleigh did not make the most of their chances, whilst Heatherton hardly missed. The 57-38 scoreline outlined the superiority of the Heatherton side over all their opponents. St Pauls held second spot, but did not have things all their own way against eighth-placed St Kilda City after establishing a 13-point lead in the first quarter. St Pauls were made to work hard for every goal but as was the pattern in division two this day, their finishing was a bit more clinical.
This was also the difference in the closest match of the day between third-placed Dingley and a Mordialloc side trying to break back into the four. This was a very even contest across the court, with both sides showing patches of play that would not be out of place in any finals encounter. Dingley on the day were able to finish their work the better and in doing so remained out of the top two on percentage only, with Mordialloc being two points from the finals positions with five games to play. Chelsea Heights in seventh moved to within two points of CPL, against whom they were always in control. They established a solid 18-5 lead early, and increased that lead throughout the afternoon, finally emerging victorious by 58-26.
The all-conquering Heatherton Division 3 side continued to, well, conquer, but were pushed to the finish by fourth-placed Black Rock. The 40-37 scoreline was testament to a Jetballer side that will feel they will go deep into late August. Dingley moved into second spot with their 36-21 win over Keysborough, taking over from St Kilda City who forfeited in strange circumstances. They found that their netball court was unplayable as it had the St Kilda Market sitting on top of it! At the other end of the table, Mordialloc scored their second win of the season by beating Skye by 42-36.
Heatherton have the daily double in Division 4, their white outfit outlasting a game Springvale Districts to win by 47-34 while the Black side held second with a 46-20 vanquishing of Lyndale. Third placed Keysborough had a day out against St Kilda City, winning 62-26, while South Yarra took fourth spot from Dingley with their 40-27 win. Highett 39 defeated Caulfield 29 to keep them from taking sixth spot.
Division 5 is the tightest of all divisions, with only four points between first and fifth. Heatherton and Black Rock have played one fewer match, giving them the top two spots. Black Rock were made to work until the final siren by Lyndhurst, their win by 40-33 showing that there are few easy matches here. Bentleigh and Dandenong swapped places within the four owing to Bentleigh’s 43-28 win, while St Kilda City kept up the pressure by beating Chelsea Heights by 53-44. Outside the four Dingley beat Mordialloc by 26-19, and Cheltenham opened their account for the season, beating Skye by 57-10.
Division 6 shows Lyndhurst leading by four points from South Yarra and Lyndale, with Caulfield eight points back in fourth. South Yarra gave Lyndhurst their first defeat of the season, winning by 47-28, while the rest of the four all had wins. Despite losing to second placed Heatherton, Oakleigh District still comfortably hold fourth place in Division 7, while top-rated Mount Waverley and Bentleigh in third both had wins.
There were no shocks in Division 8. Cheltenham and Heatherton lead the way by a 20-point margin from Keysborough and Dandenong, and it’s hard to see Lyndhurst nor Doveton bridging the gap between fourth and the rest. In the Under 19s the two Dingley sides lead the way from the two Mordialloc sides in the top four.