SFNL Netball Round Review

By Hugh Maclean


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Mordialloc had the chance to put pressure on the other finals contenders in Division 1 against St Pauls in an early Saturday morning fixture. Mordialloc may have been the taller and physically more imposing side in this battle but they started slowly, as they have in many matches this year, being behind by a goal at the first change and struggling to gain traction in the second term as St Pauls made them fight for every ball. In the third quarter, Mordialloc broke the game open as Sophie Durnan began to dominate after a fascinating first half battle with the excellent Claire Stratton, and their defensive pillars led by Lucy McKeown began to pick off intercept after intercept. The third was the only quarter Mordialloc won, but they won it by 16-1 and the 14-goal three quarter time advantage was too much to St Pauls to reel in. Mordialloc were able to coast to an unconvincing 37-26 victory.

Dingley were somewhat more convincing in their 57-16 demolition of an undermanned Caulfield. Their pressure game was on song from the opening pass, and Caulfield found ball control difficult as a result in the wintry conditions. Sarah Fischer played probably her best game since returning from last year’s injury, and she was given ample opportunity to score by a dominant Dingley mid court. Caulfield also shot accurately, but they could not get the same supply and had to deal with Sophie Clark, Laura Piper and Chloe Sinclair at the top of their game when the ball did get to the circle. In the second half Caulfield’s passing game disintegrated completely – no matter the game situation Dingley’s work rate will not decrease and it didn’t here. Caulfield will look forward to getting some important troops back on court in coming weeks as at full strength, they are still a major threat.

Hampton Park came into the game against St Kilda City riding high on the confidence gained by their maiden SFNL victory last week. City moved the ball well into the circle in an attempt to dent this confidence, and while they were able to score well Hampton Park kept their tally rolling well enough to take a 12-10 lead to the first change. Megan Egbers moved from defence to attack in the second term to resume her successful partnership with Elly Anthony, and with this spearhead to aim at Hampton Park played their best quarter of netball all season. Creative in mid-court and solid in defence, they blew City off the court to lead 30-13 at half time and effectively end the game as a contest. After half time Hampton Park continued to play accurate, short passes to cope with the wet conditions, and although the second half was more even and Rosie Augl especially shot well to keep City’s score ticking over, the Redbacks were too strong. 51-30 was the final margin.

Heatherton’s win over Keysborough by agency of forfeit means that they are one of three sides on 32 points, behind Dingley and ahead of Mordialloc. Caulfield, despite losing their last two matches, are relatively comfortable in fourth place on 24 points, ahead of St Pauls on 16, and Keysborough, Hampton Park and St Kilda City on 8 each.

Second division leaders Cheltenham fell to their first loss of the season in a pulsating clash against second-placed Murrumbeena. This game was in dispute until the very end, and while Cheltenham did plenty to show that their top billing is justified, Murrumbeena were excellent in winning this one by 49-44. Heatherton continued their charge up the ladder, taking third spot and relegating Caulfield to fourth with their 48-31 success. Heatherton’s game against Cheltenham next weekend could be another early pointer to what may occur come August. Dingley Gold were too good for Keysborough by 43-29 to stay in touch with the top four, while Bentleigh were not for the first time within touching distance of their first win, but fell to South Yarra by the agonising margin of 50-49.

St Kilda City’s 39-23 win over Black Rock kept them at the helm of Division 3, and Black Rock still just out of the top four. Dingley Gold and Dingley Red both won to stay within two and four points of the leaders respectively. Gold conquered fourth-placed Heatherton by 43-28, while Red were made to work somewhat harder by Caulfield before winning by 43-41. Elsewhere Cheltenham had little trouble with last placed Bentleigh, winning by 46-12, and Mordialloc won their second game in succession by topping Lyndale by 45-24. The key clash this week is between St Kilda City against Heatherton, which has ramifications at both ends of the top four.

Murrumbeena’s unbeaten run continues in Division 4 with their 48-31 eclipse of St Kilda City. Heatherton Black are four points back having beaten Keysborough by 34-16, with CPL’s 36-22 win over Caulfield Blue kept their challenge very much alive four points further adrift. Fifth-placed Springvale Districts closed the gap to Caulfield Yellow to four points by beating them by 52-49 in a brilliant battle, while Heatherton White stayed in the hunt with their 47-33 win over Mordialloc. CPL’s game against Springvale Districts and Caulfield Yellow’s clash with Murrumbeena this week may open things up for Heatherton White to get closer.

Division 5 is the most fascinating battle in the SFNL. Oakleigh District’s 34-27 win over Aspendale means that the top five sides (Lyndhurst, Aspendale, Dingley Gold, Oakleigh District and East Brighton in that order), are all level on 34 points. This week Lyndhurst were too good for Heatherton by 51-33, East Brighton defeated Dingley Red by 55-26, and Dingley Gold received a forfeit from St Pauls. Elsewhere Black Rock scored their second win of the season over St Kilda City by 21-20, and Highett beat Cheltenham by 41-32. East Brighton’s game against Oakleigh District and Dingley Gold’s clash with Lyndhurst ensure that the five-team bloc will be broken, while Aspendale’s game this week against St Pauls is one that they will think they should win.

Mordialloc Red are unbeaten at the top of Division 6 having disposed of Dingley’s challenge by 67-31. Doveton Eagles are the nearest challenger – they were made to pull out all stops before beating Clayton by 46-42. Lyndale remain third despite a surprise 46-32 defeat at the hands of St Kilda City, while Keysborough’s 38-7 win over Bentleigh means that they take Clayton’s spot in the top four. Mordialloc White continued their recent good form with a 29-26 win over Clayton, while Hallam beat St Kilda City by 35-16. Second plays third this week as Doveton Eagles take on Lyndale, Red takes on White in the Mordialloc derby, while Keysborough and Clayton will both start favourite in their games to make the final four a race between five clubs.

Dingley and Lyndhurst retained their undefeated status in Division 7 with wins over Aspendale (53-31) and Cheltenham (41-24) respectively. Hampton tuned up for their clash with Dingley next week by beating Heatherton by 50-12, while Murrumbeena consolidated their fourth place by beating CPL by 39-21. East Brighton could be the only realistic challenger – they walloped Mount Waverley by 67-19, while Doveton Eagles beat Springvale Districts by 41-38. Lyndhurst, Murrumbeena and East Brighton all play sides lower on the ladder than themselves, so it would take an upset result or two to change the status quo this week.

Hallam Red continued on their merry way at the top of Division 8 by besting Highett to the tune of 29-24, while Lyndhurst were made to work all the way before beating Oakleigh District by 34-28 and retaining second spot. Lyndale beat Keysborough by 26-25 to close the gap to Hallam Yellow (who had the bye), to just two points. Lyndale could take fourth spot next week should Yellow lose the Hallam derby, but they will have to beat Lyndhurst to do so.

South Yarra beat Clayton by 57-32 in Division 9 to hold top spot as the top three all won. Heatherton in second had too many guns for Springvale Districts Blue, winning by 51-13, while Lyndhurst took the psychological and literal points against fourth placed Black Rock by 36-22. Elsewhere Dingley beat Springvale Districts Red by 25-11. Heatherton and Black Rock meet in the division’s match of the day in Round 11.

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