2016 SFNL Netball Grand Final Preview

By Hugh Maclean

DIVISION 1: Heatherton v Dingley

Last Time They Met

Second Semi-Final (Heatherton 63-61)

Form Line

Heatherton: WWWWW

Dingley: WLWLW

Dingley’s dream of four premierships in a row remains a viable concern, but it will require the defeat of the dominant Heatherton in the decider. Dingley will rely on superb organisation to get the job done, the nucleus of this side having been there and won before. Every member of this squad has a job, knows their role and has the discipline to carry out their allotted task. Heatherton moves the ball around the court as well as any side in Division 1, with every link in the chain knowing where they have to be at the appropriate time. Heatherton’s defence has not always got the plaudits that it deserves but it has conceded fewer goals than any other team in 2016. The Semi Final between these two sides was a shootout. I’m not so sure that the Grand Final will be played along similar lines, and I think that a slower tempo might just play into the hands of the Dingoes. With no great confidence, I’m tipping Dingley... just.

[caption id="attachment_12682" align="aligncenter" width="510"]Dingley duo Sara Merkus and Alicia Wise (captain). Dingley duo Sara Merkus and Alicia Wise (captain).[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_12681" align="aligncenter" width="551"]Heatherton co-captains Rahni Samason and Zali Mifsud. Heatherton co-captains Rahni Samason and Zali Mifsud.[/caption]



DIVISION 2: Heatherton v St Pauls

Last Time They Met

Second Semi-Final (Heatherton 49-45)

Form Line

Heatherton: WWLWW

St Pauls: WLLWW

Heatherton come into the grand final having tasted defeat only once all season, and has dominated to the point that their goal difference for the season is 255 greater than the next best. That one loss, however, came at the hands of St Pauls, who will have less fear of the black and white than most. The Saints had a good hit-out against Mordialloc in the Preliminary Final having been slightly flat late in the season, and will come into the decider with confidence intact. They may feel that their best chance is dry weather as they look to attack swiftly and provide early supply to their deadly accurate shooters, but then again I can’t see this concerning Heatherton unduly as they are quite adept at fast movement themselves. Difficult as Heatherton have found St Pauls to play against this season, I’m struggling to see anything other than a Heatherton victory here.

[caption id="attachment_12683" align="aligncenter" width="547"]Heatherton's Nikki Arnold and St Pauls' Megan Geschke Heatherton's Nikki Arnold and St Pauls' Megan Geschke[/caption]



DIVISION 3: Heatherton v Dingley

Last Time They Met

Second Semi-Final (Heatherton 36-29)

Form Line

Heatherton: WWWWW

Dingley: WLLLW

Heatherton come into this match as one of the two unbeaten sides across the nine divisions of the SFNL. Dingley will therefore feel that they have nothing to lose as the weight of expectation falls onto their opponent. Dingley’s draw was such that they have been playing finalists for the last five weeks, so they will be battle hardened, but will they now be battle weary? Their clash with Heatherton a fortnight back was a physical affair and they will expect similar fare here, but there is more to Heatherton than that. As their unbeaten record suggests, they have few weak links, winners in every sector of the court, and enough class to take the premiership against a dogged Dingley.

[caption id="attachment_12684" align="aligncenter" width="456"]Heatherton skipper Alex Riddell and Dingley captain Kasey Blizzard. Heatherton skipper Alex Riddell and Dingley captain Kasey Blizzard.[/caption]



DIVISION 4: South Yarra v Heatherton White

Last Time They Met

Second Semi-Final (South Yarra 38-23)

Form Line

South Yarra: WWWWW

Heatherton: WLWLW

South Yarra come into the weekend looking for their first premiership in SFNL history. They have achieved this by hitting peak form at just the right stage of the season in the tightest division in the league. South Yarra’s success is built upon the stinginess of their defence, having conceded just 20 points per match, eight per match better than their opponents here. In Heatherton White they face the most potent attack in the division, a young fast side that can hurt you from anywhere on the court. If they can start the game well, Heatherton may take some catching here. South Yarra, however, take pride in applying pressure all over the court and having the ability to do so for four quarters, which could be just enough to deliver glory to the maroon and blue.

[caption id="attachment_12685" align="aligncenter" width="499"]South Yarra's Maggie Riley and HEatherton vice-captain Chelsey McAndrew. South Yarra's Maggie Riley and HEatherton vice-captain Chelsey McAndrew.[/caption]



DIVISION 5: Black Rock v Heatherton

Last Time They Met

Second Semi-Final (Black Rock 36-27)

Form Line

Black Rock: WWWWW

Heatherton: WLWWW

The Semi Final battle between these two sides saw Heatherton take a strong early lead before being overtaken by a chastened Black Rock. Whether the Jetballers can recover from such a start again remains to be seen, but it’s certainly a question they will not want to have to answer in a Grand Final. The side that turns the ball over the least will probably win the match here as both sides have particularly lethal shooting divisions that will capitalise should they receive their fair share of the ball. It may be Black Rock that has the height and versatility to carry the day and carry off the premiership cup.

[caption id="attachment_12690" align="aligncenter" width="417"]Black Rock co-captains Bec Goodear and Bek Neal Black Rock co-captains Bec Goodear and Bek Neal[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_12691" align="aligncenter" width="264"]Heatherton skipper Kristy Loyd. Heatherton skipper Kristy Loyd.[/caption]



DIVISION 6: Lyndhurst v Caulfield

Last Time They Met

Round 12 (Lyndhurst 54-43)

Form Line

Lyndhurst WWWWW

Caulfield WWWWW

Lyndhurst meet Caulfield having won their last six matches in a row, while Caulfield have won their last five, so expect a high quality Grand Final here. Lyndhurst have blown most challenges off the court this season with an attack that has shown little propensity for being held by any opponent. Caulfield on the other hand have gone about things in their own steady way, relying on a solid team spirit and a feistiness which has meant that no contest is entered into lightly. They have been impressive in disposing of the challenges of both Lyndale and South Yarra in their two finals, but I think that the brilliance of Lyndhurst will be just enough to secure the Lightning their first premiership in their maiden SFNL season.

[caption id="attachment_12694" align="aligncenter" width="520"]Lyndhurst's Melissa Hood and Caulfield captain Suhailah Davies. Lyndhurst's Melissa Hood and Caulfield captain Suhailah Davies.[/caption]



DIVISION 7: Heatherton v Mount Waverley

Last Time They Met

Second Semi-Final (Heatherton 43-35)

Form Line

Heatherton: WWWWW

Mount Waverley: WLDDW

Heatherton lost three of their first four matches in Division 7 and haven’t been beaten since. Mount Waverley have had a slightly rockier road to navigate on their way to the decider, but come in on the back of a stirring extra-time victory over Oakleigh last week. They will feel that they have the knowledge required to end Heatherton’s winning streak, but to do so they will have to get on top of the strongest mid-court combination in the division. Should they do so, mind you, they possess the potency in the circle to make life very difficult for their opposing defenders. Heatherton to win, but an upset would not be a total surprise.

[caption id="attachment_12687" align="aligncenter" width="580"]Heatherton captain Olivia Clark and Mount Waverley's Shana Jowett. Heatherton captain Olivia Clark and Mount Waverley's Shana Jowett.[/caption]



DIVISION 8: Heatherton v Cheltenham

Last Time They Met

Second Semi-Final (Heatherton 43-30)

Form Line

Heatherton: WWWWW

Cheltenham: WLWWW

These have been easily the two standout teams in this division. Cheltenham inflicted Heatherton’s only defeat for the season in Round 6 but Heatherton got their revenge six weeks later, and continued the trend in the second semi-final. The key to beating Cheltenham is restricting the opportunities given to their two shooters, who are the most prolific in the division. Against that, Heatherton possess the division’s tightest defence and will not be keen to allow any sort of run of goals against them. Heatherton will come into this game as slight favourites given their Semi Final success, but I’m going to go with the underdog and tip Cheltenham in a close one.

[caption id="attachment_12688" align="aligncenter" width="458"]Heatherton skipper Rachel Ebert and Cheltenham skipper Janice Lamb. Heatherton skipper Rachel Ebert and Cheltenham skipper Janice Lamb.[/caption]



UNDER 19s: Dingley Two v Dingley One

Last Time They Met

Second Semi-Final (Dingley Two 42-32)

Form Line

Dingley Two: WDWWW

Dingley One: WLDWW

This all-Dingley Grand Final may not be as friendly an affair as one may expect. There is a lot of local pride at stake here as well as the premiership cup, and neither side will want to lose to their intra-club rivals. Dingley Two come into this one unbeaten, their only dropped points coming in a draw with Dingley One in Round 15. They have scored 57 more goals than their opponents over the season and conceded 80 fewer, and are hard to tip against. But my advice to any netball fan is to get to Rowan Road early because this one may be worth watching.

[caption id="attachment_12689" align="aligncenter" width="561"]Opposing Dingley captains Gemma Reynolds (Two) and Aimie Taylor (One). Opposing Dingley captains Gemma Reynolds (Two) and Aimie Taylor (One).[/caption]

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