SFNL Netball Round Reviews brought to you by yellow tail wines.
By Hugh Maclean
15 rounds are done and dusted, leading to half a competition’s worth of weary netballers storing the tunics away until next April brings its chill to the air. My congratulations to those finishing up for what they have achieved this season, and I hope it gave you enough good memories to return when next autumn rolls around. For everyone else, finals beckons.
Whereas normally the main focus of this column is on Divisions 1 and 2, this week Divisions 3 and 4 are highlighted where the race to finals has been somewhat tighter than those competitions higher. In Division 3, Black Rock in fourth met second placed Dingley knowing they had the points advantage, but that Caulfield were ready to swoop should they slip up. The match showed up all the tension of the occasion early, with Black Rock’s press working well early and thus Dingley unable to move the ball forward with any great freedom, albeit that their defence kept the game even. A 7-5 quarter time Black Rock lead was indicative of the cagey nature of the start.
Elsewhere Caulfield began to take the early initiative against Skye. They began to move the ball well with their opponents always that half-step behind, and although Skye also looked dangerous going forward Caulfield’s shooting strength and agility around the circle allowed them to lead 13-9. Caulfield really started to put their foot down in the second quarter, finding space by playing in front and feeding their shooters led by Steph Purcell. Skye preferred a direct approach, moving the ball forward to where the excellent Kimberley Harrison was a constant threat. During the third term Skye started to tire as Caulfield looked stronger on the transition, turning a 13-goal half time advantage into a 19-goal lead turning for home. Skye caught their second wind in the final stanza, but could get no closer than 52-38 at the end.
All of this may have been irrelevant however, depending on the final result between Black Rock and Dingley, and after three quarters of constant thrust and parry, scores were level, and it was all down to the last term. Dingley unleashed coach Penny Byers-Timms in the goal circle, and she was soon on the scoreboard as Dingley took the early initiative, but Jacinta Frawley and Dani Forward kept pulling Black Rock back into the game whenever Dingley looked like breaking clear. In a quarter of four lead changes it was Black Rock that emerged victorious by 30-28, thus securing the vital fourth semi final spot.
In other matches, Clayton pushed Heatherton all the way, being level at quarter time and within four at both half and three quarter time. Heatherton’s know-how came to the fore late however, and they completed their season undefeated. St Kilda City took second place from Dingley by ending Mordialloc’s season with a 50-20 defeat.
Division 4 was tightly congested, with four points covering the top five sides. Keysborough, who had to win to have any chance of going any further, hit the ground running against Heatherton White, leading by four at quarter time and holding that lead to the main break. The Heatherton girls clicked into gear at half time, levelling the game by the last change and converting ten goals in the last quarter to the six replies from Keysborough, to win 41-37 and end their season.
This win by Heatherton White meant that the loser of the South Yarra v Heatherton Black clash would miss the double chance. Heatherton Black are a particularly well-drilled unit and moved the ball from one end of the court to the other like clockwork. South Yarra had to work harder for their opportunities, but this did not mean they were any less effective, as they turned a one-goal deficit at quarter time to a three-goal lead at the main break. And it was the ladies in maroon that seized the day in the second half to win 35-26 and take the minor premiership, consigning Heatherton Black to an elimination final next week.
They will play Dingley, who tuned up for the finals with a 53-24 win over St Kilda City. Highett finished on a high note by beating Springvale Districts by 51-28, while Caulfield finished with a win by forfeit over East Brighton.
Elsewhere, Division 1’s matches finished as expected. Bentleigh and Keysborough clashed in a physical affair, in which the first quarter was even but the game started to roll Keysborough’s way after that. Keysborough took control in the centre and completed their work well to win by 55-31. Dingley were challenged early by Caulfield but their superior team play came to the fore, and they won every quarter to finish with the points by 65-41. Not much went right for St Kilda City, losing key defender Fiona White early from an already undermanned side. Bayley Mifsud and Rahni Samason led Heatherton to a convincing 76-36 win and the minor premiership.
Division 2 saw Heatherton rebound from their first defeat by beating Bentleigh by 64-32. St Pauls retained second spot despite a 54-49 reverse against last placed St Kilda City. Third-placed Dingley beat Mordialloc by 48-32 in an elimination final dress rehearsal, while Chelsea Heights continued their brilliant late season form by knocking over CPL by 52-36.
St Kilda City needed a big win to unseat Dingley from fourth spot in Division 5. Unfortunately they were second best on the day, with Dingley securing August action by winning by 52-36. Black Rock had the bye and finished with the minor premiership, but they will be watching Heatherton, who gave Skye a heck of a walloping, winning 100-13. Bentleigh beat Chelsea Heights 75-31 to secure third spot, while Cheltenham and Mordialloc finished off with wins against Dandenong and Lyndhurst respectively.
Division 6 saw minor premiers Lyndhurst make short work of Clayton by 69-28. South Yarra, Caulfield and Lyndale make up the four, and they warmed up by beating Dingley, Hampton and Highett respectively. St Kilda City finished off their season well by winning well over CPL. Heatherton made sure of top spot in Division 7 by beating second placed Bentleigh. Mount Waverley drew with bottom-placed Black Rock, but this did not cost them third spot despite Oakleigh Districts’ win over Murrumbeena. Doveton relegated South Yarra to seventh spot on percentage with their nine-goal win.
Division 8 saw the top three win over the bottom three. Heatherton were too good for fourth-placed Keysborough, Cheltenham won convincingly against Lyndhurst, while Dandenong outlasted Doveton. In a preview of next week’s finals, Dingley Two dropped their first points of the season by drawing with Dingley One, while Mordialloc One were too good for Mordialloc Two.