SFNL Netball Grand Final Preview

By Hugh Maclean



Heatherton Black v Dingley

Div 1

Meetings This Season

Second Semi Final (Heatherton Black 49-35)

Round 13 (Heatherton Black 47-31)

Round 3 (draw 52-52)

Form Line

Heatherton Black - WWWWW

Dingley - WLWWL

Dingley finished the regular season in pole position, but the one side they have been unable to defeat is Heatherton Black. Indeed, their draw in Round 3 this year is the only time they’ve been able to avoid defeat in the last seven meetings between the two competition heavyweights. Dingley will feel that this will count for little in the pressure cooker atmosphere that a grand final brings, and will take great confidence from their victory over Caulfield in a classic preliminary final. Their makeshift shooting combination stood up well against Caulfield’s elite defenders, and Laura Piper and Bridget Furphy will need to play similar games if Dingley are to salute here.

Heatherton Black appear to have few weaknesses across the court. At each end of the court they have solidity and class: Rahni Samason and Nat Billings have been unstoppable on occasions in attack while in defence Kirsten Daley provides the solidity that gives their whole court faith. The Mifsud sisters have shepherded an at times young and inexperienced mid-court, and given them the solid base on which they have been able to thrive. This battle is likely to be decided in the middle. Taylah Fiddes and Nikki Tulley have both had excellent seasons playing around the experienced axis provided by Dingley stars Alicia Wise, Shae Wonnacott and Sara Merkus; they will need to be at their best to give their shooters enough ball to post a winning score.

Dingley won the Preliminary Final with 48 goals. They will need at least that many to avenge last season’s grand final defeat and be crowned premiers. Can they do this? I’m not so sure, and will tip Heatherton Black to go back-to-back.



Heatherton v Caulfield

Div 2

Meetings This Season

Round 12 (Heatherton 68-24)

Round 6 (Heatherton 43-30)

Form Line

Heatherton - WWWWW

Caulfield - WWWWL

Heatherton come into the Grand Final undefeated, while Caulfield have tasted defeat six times in their 15 outings. This may sound like a David v Goliath style battle, but don’t be fooled, for if Caulfield can bring the intensity and sharpness that they showed in disposing of Dingley in the Preliminary Final, they can match any team. The first half of the Second Semi Final against Dingley showed up cracks in the Heatherton armour that hadn’t been seen in matches past, and whilst the system was able to be reset in the second half of that match the win was not Heatherton’s most convincing.

To get over the top of the black and whites, Caulfield will need to put a lot of work into quelling the force of Sophie Bartlett, who has netted more goals on her own than the entire Caulfield side this season. The likes of captain Mandy Quinn and Jaime Regnier have done an excellent job in feeding her the opportunities to score; while a solid defence led by Kirsty Mann and Belinda Kay have been the tightest of any side in the division. Caulfield will pose a threat of their own, with Brie Cooper an imposing and creative wing attack, Caitlyn Ashby and Hannah Shilling in good shooting form, and Megan Ellett in fine fettle in defence.

Coach Sue Kimber will be looking for revenge here after Caulfield’s loss in the Division 1 Preliminary Final. They will try and give Heatherton plenty to think about in attack, but I feel that posting a winning score in this match may be just beyond them. Heatherton to win here.



Dingley v Keysborough

Div 3

Meetings This Season

Round 12 (Dingley 46-36)

Round 3 (Dingley 36-26)

Form Line

Dingley - WWWWL

Keysborough - WWWWL

Dingley and Keysborough come into this decider having both defeated ladder leader Clayton. Dingley only took second spot on the ladder after Heatherton were eclipsed in the last round, while Keysborough needed to remain unbeaten after Round 12 just to play finals. This they duly did, and their bond as a team has only grown through playing, and winning, four virtual elimination finals. Neither of these sides rely on a particular star player, but have achieved success through each player doing their job and doing it well. The outcome of the game may depend on which shooter has the better day, with Alana Cooper for Dingley and Bianca Robinson for Keysborough having the responsibility of finishing the good work further up the court.

Keysborough have made a habit of proving me wrong as I’ve tipped against them right throughout the back end of this season. I can’t help feeling that the run will end and that Dingley will take the prize here, but this Keysborough side has the momentum going with it, and I’m sure they’ll be quick to tell me that I’m wrong again should they emerge victorious, and it would not come as the greatest shock if they did.



Dingley Gold v Heatherton White

Div 4

Meetings This Season

Second Semi Final (Dingley Gold 49-34)

Round 15 (Heatherton White 47-43)

Round 6 (Dingley Gold 44-39)

Form Line

Dingley Gold - WLWWW

Heatherton White - WLWWW

There is very little between these two sides as they meet again on the final day of the 2017 season. Dingley Gold took an early lead in their recent Semi Final, which Heatherton White could not pull back, but I wouldn’t be taking too much notice of the margin in that encounter. This Heatherton White side is rich in experience and resilient in attitude, and they needed all of that poise and guile in requiring extra time to see off their Heatherton Black counterparts last week. The amount of petrol that this has taken out of the Heatherton tank could be a key factor here; another one will be the ability to stop Dingley’s star shooter Bianca Waras-Carstenson and her sidekick Shannon Bailey. I’m not so sure that Heatherton can do this effectively enough to prevent a Dingley victory here.



Dingley v Caulfield

Div 5

Meetings This Season

Second Semi Final (Dingley 44-38)

Round 11 (Caulfield 42-33)

Form Line

Dingley - WWWWW

Caulfield - WLWWW

Dingley’s Semi Final victory over Caulfield was a shock to many watchers of this division. Caulfield then needed all their experience and nous to defeat a valiant Lyndhurst in the Preliminary Final – if they are to annex the premiership it will certainly have been well-earned! That Semi Final was a very close affair all day, with Dingley only prevailing as a result of a withering burst in the last quarter. I’m not sure that Caulfield will allow that to happen this time around, and if Dingley are to win this one I feel that they will need to assert their authority far earlier in the contest. The key to doing that will be dampening the influence of the clever Tanya Hiscock. The likes of Madelyn Ades and Nicole Carmeni may hold the key to the match for Dingley, but I’m tipping the Mumma Bears from Caulfield to take the title of division five premiers.



Dingley Red v Heatherton

Div 6

Meetings This Season

Second Semi Final (Dingley Red 46-24)

Round 8 (Dingley Red 51-30)

Form Line

Dingley Red - WWWWW

Heatherton - WLWWW

Division 6 was one in which only two points separated first place from fourth. As is so often the case in such close competitions it is the top two sides which have won through to the Grand Final. Dingley Red have dominated the two meetings between these sides this year, but their defeat of Heatherton in the semi-final is the only loss that either has suffered in the past five weeks, so the form line is strong for both sides. The game pits the competition’s strongest attack in Dingley against the strongest defence in Heatherton. Heatherton have thus far been unable to impose their defensive will on their Dingley, but I feel that the tension of a Grand Final may allow them to do this somewhat more easily this time around. This game will be a lot closer than the previous meetings between the two opponents, but the ingredients of this match up all point to a Dingley victory for me.



Oakleigh District v Dingley

Div 7

Meetings This Season

Second Semi Final (Oakleigh District 23-21)

Round 13 (Dingley 21-16)

Round 1 (Dingley 34-13)

Form Line

Oakleigh District - WWWLW

Dingley - WLWWW

Dingley have led this competition from the opening day to the last, having Oakleigh snapping at their heels the whole way. Districts looked set for a third straight loss to the Dingoes in a cagey, defensive Semi Final, but came home with a wet sail to overthrow their nemeses in the last quarter. Oakleigh is a side from which you know what you will get – their consistency has got them to where they are. Dingley are the more free-wheeling, flashier attacking side but their defensive game can also not be underestimated, and Oakleigh will need all their netball smarts to post a winning score here. Dingley did not finish their season with fourteen wins for no reason, and I’m tipping them to overturn their Semi Final defeat and prevail over a gallant Oakleigh here.



Keysborough v Mordialloc

Div 8

Meetings This Season

Second Semi Final (Keysborough 33-16)

Round 14 (Keysborough 44-15)

Round 1 (Keysborough 40-26)

Form Line

Keysborough - WWWWW

Mordialloc - WLWLW

Keysborough are one of only two undefeated sides in the whole of the SFNL. Mordialloc have only suffered three defeats, all of which have been at the hands of the Burras. Hence the right sides are contesting this Grand Final. Keysborough’s defence has been nigh-on impregnable on occasions this season, their tally of 233 goals against being easily the best defensive record across all divisions. Their opponents have struggled to breach this defensive wall in their last two meetings, and will need to use all their industriousness and shooting power to get close. I recently asked a friend who has played a lot of Division 8 netball whether anyone would beat Keysborough. She replied, “not a chance”. I see no reason to doubt her assessment. Keysborough will win this.

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