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By Hugh Maclean
After a weekend of pulsating Semi Finals, Heatherton have earned a week’s break and secured a Grand Final berth in both the top two divisions. And in both these divisions, it will be either Dingley or Caulfield that will be joining them.
Dingley V Caulfield
Court 2 - 12:00pm
Dingley’s defeat in the Division 1 Second Semi Final was, many people feel, a reflection of the superiority of the team in black. However, they did put together several passages of play during the match to suggest that this is far from a one-horse race. Now Dingley face a Caulfield unit that was clinical in their defeat of a very competent opponent in Keysborough. Caulfield possess the mid-court strength to trouble Dingley’s running brigade, and the depth to ensure that they can bring on fresh legs without weakening the structure. The key to this match could well be how the defensive units are able to repel the attacking threat of the foe. Alice Pohlner and Phoebe Naughton have been immense for Caulfield all season, as have the various combinations offered by Alicia Wise, Chloe Sinclair and Britt Goldsmith at Dingley. The competence of the shooters on display, coupled with the pressure of the occasion, makes this their greatest challenge of the season thus far. Can Caulfield take the next step? You wouldn’t rule it out, but the experience of Dingley may just be enough to get them home.
Dingley V Caulfield
Court 2 - 1:20pm
Division 2’s Heatherton have taken all before them this season, but Dingley showed enough last week to suggest that they may not be the unstoppable force that all had feared. The key, of course, is matching their intensity for four quarters rather than two. Dingley therefore face Caulfield itching for another crack at Goliath, while the admirable Bear combination will see the sky as the limit in their first season in Division 2. Dingley’s foundation is built on a strong defensive pairing of Miranda Bailey and Marty Cooper, who have consistently shown the ability to not only repel attacks but set up play for the likes of Chelsea Goldin to feed the shooting division led by the experienced Penny Byers-Tymms. Caulfield, however, also boast plenty of useful experience, and the blend of experienced and youthful players such as Brodie Aumont, Hannah Shilling and Gabby Martini have all had stellar seasons, and will hit this week with little trepidation. I fear that this may be a bridge too far for Caulfield however, and will tip Dingley here.
Clayton V Keysborough
Court 6 - 12:00pm
Few people expected Clayton to be playing this week. They had taken all before them through the regular season and looked to be playing a brand of netball that would take them all the way through August. Last Saturday they faced a Dingley side that had been primed to peak at finals time and were basically too good on the day. Clayton must now contend with a Keysborough combination that only got to finals on the last day of the season, and take plenty of momentum from their meritorious win over Heatherton in the Semi Final. To beat Clayton they will need to stop the speed of their ball movement and restrict supply to Penny Townley and Taylah Mackie in the goal circle. While this will be one heck of a battle, I’m prepared to forgive Clayton their slip up and tip them to bounce back.
Heatherton White V Heatherton Black
Court 6 - 1:20pm
Inter club derbies are always tricky, cagey affairs. Opponents know each other well and the games tend to have a somewhat different feel about them. When this happens in a final the effect is magnified. There has been little between the experienced Heatherton White and the younger Heatherton Black this season, and I don’t see a blow-out in this game either. There is enough attacking flair in both these sides to suggest that they are capable of posing a winning score. Big games, however, are generally won by the side that settles the quickest, and the cool heads provided by the likes of Yvonne McMillan and Heidi Samason may just be enough to get White across the line.
Caulfield V Lyndhurst
Court 4 - 12:00pm
Caulfield were seen by many as good things beaten in their semi Final against Dingley last week, and will see them as favourites to bounce back in the Preliminary Final. To do so, however, they will have to overcome a Lyndhurst side that is tall and imposing enough to be a match for anything this division has to offer. The Lightning also showed themselves to be competent in tight situations, having to pull out all the stops in defeating Heatherton by just the one goal. The Mumma Bears will need to put a lot of work into stopping Melissa Mair, who has topped the 500-goal mark this season, and the best way to do that may be to restrict the supply to the Lightning goal circle. There won’t be any fancy margin in this, but Caulfield weren’t minor premiers for no reason, and I fancy them to salute the judge here.
Heatherton V Dingley Gold
Court 4 - 1:20pm
The efficiency with which Dingley Red beat Heatherton last week in Division 6 was unexpected by many. Now they face a Dingley Gold side that was equally clinical in ending Doveton’s season. Coach Alicia Wise has the Golden Girls ready for the challenge, but this Heatherton side is one whose whole has been more than the sum of its parts. It has shown few weaknesses through the season, and has been well worth it’s minor premiership. To win this for Dingley Gold they will need to control the mid-court, and provide more opportunities for the likes of Megan Piper to finish. I’m going to stick my neck out here, tip winning form to be good form, and back the Gold to prevail and make it an all-Dingley Grand Final.
Dingley V Lyndhurst
Court 8 - 12:00pm
Dingley proved themselves to be the team to beat all season in Division 7, but very few could do just that. Oakleigh District had been bridging the gap all season, but they finally delivered on their promise last week. Dingley now face a Lyndhurst side that were very impressive in disposing of the sizeable threat offered by CPL last week. These two sides met in Round 15, and on a cold, wind-swept afternoon Lyndhurst came within a whisker of toppling the minor premiers. The Lightning are on a roll, and I think they may have enough going for them to end Dingley’s season.
Mordialloc V Dingley
Court 8 - 1:20pm
Keysborough’s dominant Division 8 season continued when they strangled the life out of their young Mordialloc challengers and clinched a berth in the Grand Final. Mordialloc now need to cope with a Dingley side that is impressing many with their impressive ball movement and intelligence beyond their young years. This could be decided by the shooters: can the talented Grace Evans and Tilly O’Toole be more effective on the day than Dingley’s clinical Bec Wonnacott and Suz Sinclair? No side has beaten Mordialloc this season apart from Keysborough, and I’m tipping them to get another crack at the Burras next week.