SFNL netball scribe Bianca Bristow and Media Officer Will Hunter review all of last weekend's Preliminary Finals action and run the rule over this Saturday's netball Grand Finals across all six divisions.
Click HERE for start times and venue information for all SFNL Netball Grand Finals.
Dingley has kept its premiership hopes alive with an impressive 13-goal win over fierce rivals Heatherton on Saturday. In an extremely physical contest Dingley managed to stay in front throughout the game leaving Heatherton chasing the score.
Dingley dominated in the first quarter, scoring 10 goals. Goal defence Alicia Wise and goal keeper Maddy Taylor worked well in the ring together putting pressure on the Heatherton goal scoring duo who only managed to net four goals.
Heatherton took a different approach for the start of the second quarter and scored the first goal, but Dingley held strong and by half time held a six-goal advantage.
While the second half started much the same as the first, the Dingoes managed to pull away to lead by 13 goals at the end of the third term – the biggest lead in the game to that point.
The final quarter lived up to the hype as Heatherton seemed to yet again try and find a different approach to the game. They managed to score the first goal off the Dingley centre pass, and went on to get two more goals in a row, however, it didn’t seem to put Dingley off their game as they managed to nail the next four goals.
With an exciting and fast-paced display of netball, it was disappointing to see that Heatherton were only now putting up a fight to win after their earlier complacency – had they started the game with this intensity it would have been incredible contest. Dingley managed to keep their lead, winning the game 43 to 30.
The Dingoes will now move on to yet another Division 1 premiership decider. This year they face the girls from Keysborough, who won through to the Grand Final on the back of a narrow 53 to 48 victory over the Dingoes in the Semi Final a fortnight ago.
The Burras’ ascention to the big dance means that for the first time in four years we won’t have a Dingley/Heatherton Grand Final. This only serves to highlight the magnitude of Keysborough’s achievements in just their first year in the Southern Football Netball League.
Both Dingley and Keysborough have proven to be the two best sides all year. The Dingoes in particular swept all before them, finishing clear on top of the ladder with just one blemish on their record. And it was the Burras who inflicted this loss back in Round 9 – the game decided by the barest of margins.
Their three remaining home and away clashes all went the Dingoes’ way – an 11-goal win in Round 3, a 17-goal victory the following week and a nail-biting 45 to 43 triumph in the penultimate round.
The Dingoes’ side, led by inspiration skipper Alicia Wise, are a force to be reckoned with. Co-coaches Sara Merkus and Penny Byers-Timms are both very smart and tenacious netballers, while Steph Young provides plenty of drive from the mid court. Up forward, Jess Payne and Sophie Barlett are prolific goal scorers, and will provide plenty of headaches for the Keysy defence.
Keysborough aren’t without stars of their own. Captain Sam Downie has had a tremendous season, and inspires her teammates with her attack on the ball. Amy Burns and Laura Agius both set up scoring opportunities with their quick ball movement and pin-point passes while Brieanne Vieceli’s versatility will also be hard to counter.
However, the burning question is whether the Burras will be able to cover the loss of dynamite goal shooter Chloe Plumb, who will miss the Grand Final after rupturing her ACL in the dying seconds of their Semi Final victory.
Can the Dingoes make it back to back titles? Or will the SFNL’s newest club salute in their debut season? Regardless of the result this will be a thrilling contest and an exciting exhibition of Southern League netball.
Dingley's Division 1 captain Alicia Wise.
Keysborough skipper Sam Downie.
Bianca’s tip: Dingley by four goals.
Will’s tip: Dingley by two goals.
St Kilda City has defeated Mordialloc by 10 goals in their Preliminary Final clash, putting the Saints in to Saturday’s Grand Final against Heatherton.
As the players lined up on court you could feel the nervous energy coming from the players who all had one goal in mind – to win the game and claim the coveted spot in the decider.
It was a nervous start from both sides as the defensive circles dominated the first term. With both sides completely focused on the game it was an even competition, causing the score to be locked at eight goals apiece at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter began with a turnover on the Mordialloc centre pass, which resulted in an outstanding goal by Simone Stuart for St Kilda City. The Bloods wilted under the pressure of the centre court defence line, causing St Kida City to come out on top at half time, leading 18 to 16.
Early into the third term the game seemed to take a different turn. Mordialloc’s focus appeared to have diminished, with St Kilda City dominating the ball at every turn. Chloe Ballard and Tayla Kaa worked in sync with each other moving the ball down to the goal circle where the goal duo Simone Stuart and Jacqueline Baker shot with such amazing accuracy. This extended lead to 14 goals.
In the final stanza Mordialloc tried to get back into the game with impressive turnovers in their favour, however, St Kilda City held strong, winning the match 40 to 30.
Heatherton now await the victorious Saints in what promises to be another cracking contest.
These two sides both finished top two (the Tunners were minor premiers) and very little separated them in their three meetings so far in 2015.
Their two home and away clashes in Rounds 6 and 10 were decided by three and two goals respectively, with both teams sharing the honours. The most recent meeting between these two was a fortnight ago in the Semi Final, and Heatherton claimed a crucial four-point victory in that match to book their spot in the Grand Final.
The Tunners have an experienced line up, which could serve them well in such an important game. Skipper Nicki Arnold always leads by example and her exquisite ball use will be crucial in giving attackers Teena Mifsud and Mia McMillan possession close to the net. Complementing their all-round strength is defender Kirsty Mann, who is a goal scorers’ nightmare.
The loss of St Kilda City captain Stephanie Waters (broken finger), will be a big loss up forward, however, Baker was outstanding in the Prelim Final win and will be their focal point in the circle. Playing coach Kate Foster will provide the Saints with plenty of drive in attack, while Ballard and Amelia Walmsley’s work in the mid court will be vital to their chances of victory.
Given all matches between these two sides have been very close, expect this Grand Final to be decided in another nail-biter.
Heatherton's Division 2 captain Nicki Arnold.
Injured Saints skipper Stephanie Waters.
Bianca’s tip: St Kilda City by six goals.
Will’s tip: Heatherton by two goals.
In last Saturday’s Preliminary Final, Caulfield faced off with Carrum Patterson Lakes. The Lakers entered the game favourites, having finished the home and away season second on the ladder behind Dingley. However, the Bears showed early they were up for the fight. It was a tough contest all day between these two sides, but in the end the Bears had rose to the occasion to pull off an upset 37 to 30 victory.
While Carrum Patterson Lakes rue what might have been on the back of a heart-breaking straight-sets finals exit, the Bears now move on to face the might of Dingley in the Grand Final – a phenomenal effort by the girls in their first season in the SFNL competition.
Caulfield and Dingley have faced off three times during the year, with Dingley victorious on all occasions.
The Dingoes cruised through the home and away season, dropping just three matches. They clinched the minor premiership ahead of Carrum Patterson Lakes on the back of their massive percentage – 144.41%.
They are a very will-drilled outfit, the Dingoes, and boast stars such as Mel Ades and Kasey Blizzard. Up front, goal scorers Emillie Hunt and Alana Cooper have proved hard to stop, and will be a danger for Caulfield’s defensive line.
The Bears didn’t have the greatest start to the year, but once they regained players from injury, they looked threatening. St Pauls’ forfeit in the last round wasn’t ideal for them, but they still managed to scrape into the finals, just 1.16% ahead of the fifth-placed Heatherton.
But don’t be fooled, this side means business. Fotini Stavrou and Brie Cooper are brilliant netballers, while tall goal shooter Sophie O’Shea has been incredible since her return from injury.
Will Dingley add some more silverware to their burgeoning trophy cabinet or will the new girls cap a dream debut season with a flag? The Dingoes have certainly been the team to beat all year, but don’t be surprised if the cup makes its way to the Bear cave. Either way, this could be one of the all-time great Grand Finals.
Dingley ace Kasey Blizzard.
Caulfield star Brie Cooper.
Bianca’s tip: Caulfield by three goals.
Will’s tip: Caulfield by one goal.
Heatherton defeated Keysborough in a hard fought Preliminary Final battle 34 to 27. Little separated the two sides for the first three quarters, but a late rally by the Tunners saw them home by seven goals. In doing so, they will advance into the final to play St Kilda City in the Grand Final.
This will be a carbon copy of the Division 2 decider.
This will be a very tough assignment for the Tunners, as to win the premiership they must do what no team has been able to do in 2015 – defeat the Saints.
Throughout the season, St Kilda City have looked a cut above the rest. They registered victories in all of their 15 home and away matches – some by massive margins – to claim the minor premiership, and finished with a whopping percentage of 199.21%
They then netted 58 goals in their 30-goal win over Keysborough in the Semi Final to effortlessly cruise in tho the Grand Final.
Their ability to score goals is one of their greatest strengths, with Tui Bristowe emerging as a force to be reckoned with at the net. Tam Cocker and Emma Haugh are also reliable scorers, but are versatile enough to play at both ends of the court. Cassie Beddom looms as Heatherton’s biggest threat, as she has been one of the driving forces behind the Saints’ success this year.
Heatherton’s chances rest on the shoulders of captain Amy McManus. A wonderful attacking netballer, McManus has been vital in setting up scoring opportunities for her side all season. She will also have ample support in Brielle Arnfield and Adelaide Douglas, while vice captain Erin Naismith will have a big job in defence.
Grand Finals are sometimes funny things. Although St Kilda City have been by far the best side all year, what they have done to this point is now irrelevant. All that matters is what both teams do for the hour they are on court on Saturday and there anything is possible.
Heatherton's Division 4 captain Amy McManus.
St Kilda City goal machine Tui Bristowe.
Bianca’s tip: St Kilda City by eight goals.
Will’s tip: St Kilda City by 12 goals.
Mordialloc pulled off the upset of the weekend, defeating the fancied Dingley 27 to 21 in the Preliminary Final. A hard-fought contest between the two teams made for entertaining netball, but the Bloods were too strong for the Dingoes late in the match and took the chocolates.
Now the side that finished third on the ladder with only nine wins from its 15 home and away games finds itself facing off with the ladder-topping Highett for the ultimate prize.
The only previous meeting between these two sides was way back in Round 8. The Dogs were victorious on that occasion 35 to 22.
Highett would be confident in their prospects. Captain Taylar Anderson leads the side by example, Emily Cullis provides plenty of drive all over the court and Emma Hamilton has been a prolific goal shooter all season.
But the belief within the Mordialloc group, coupled with the strong defence of Nikki Woinarski, determination of Chloe Elmer in the centre and the strength of Mandy Henson in attack makes for a dangerous combination.
The Bloods may have exceeded all external expectations in making the Grand Final, but they wouldn’t be satisfied with just being there. Both teams will make this a tremendous contest, so expect this one to go down to the wire.
Highett sharp-shooter Emma Hamilton.
Mordialloc pair Mandy Henson (left) and Veronica Ferguson. Veronica will miss the Grand Final with a knee injury.
Bianca’s tip: Mordialloc by six goals
Will’s tip: Highett by three goals.
Dandenong won through to the Grand Final after narrowly pipping St Kilda City 28 to 25 in a Preliminary Final heart-stopper. Just three goals separated the two sides at the final whistle in what was the closest match of the day across all divisions.
The Redlegs will play Mount Waverley in the Grand Final on Saturday.
The Mountain Lions secured their spot in the decider with a 36 to 26 win over Dandenong in the Semi Final a fortnight ago. This victory avenged their one-goal defeat to the Redlegs back in Round 8 – the only other clash between these two sides this season.
Dandenong’s captain/coach Mandi Hall is central to her side’s chances of victory. Not only an inspirational leader, she is also wonderful in defence and makes life tough for opposition shooters. Michelle Keppler and Claire Beard have also been great contributors throughout the year and will likely do well again on Saturday.
Mount skipper Madeline Boros has had an outstanding year, and would love to cap it with a premiership medallion. Her efforts are crucial to the side’s chances, although the team has an even spread contributors across the court. Emma Kerr, Amy Van Ree and Zana Mandalos are others the Redlegs will be aiming to keep quiet.
Mount Waverley will also be refreshed after their week off, to go with their two byes during the season (Dandenong only had one bye).
This will be a classic Grand Final and likely another close finish. Who will win this game is anybody’s guess.
Mount Waverley gun Emma Kerr.
Dandenong captain/coach Mandi Hall.
Bianca’s tip: Mount Waverley by one goal.
Will’s tip: Dandenong by four goals.