By Hugh Maclean
Results in Round 8 of Division 1 saw the top four sides pull away from the chasing pack, a two-win gap opening up between fourth and fifth. But just in case one might fear that this may make for tedium over the last seven rounds, the top four sides are only separated by percentage, locked on 24 points each. There is much to play out yet…
Caulfield strode to victory over Keysborough on the back of a dominant display from the Caulfield mid-court, and retained third place in the process. The likes of Makayla Bulte, Brodie Aumont and Megan Ellett formed an effective conduit between their hard-working defence, and a ruthless attacking circle where Beth Wilson converted 35 goals. Keysborough, missing regular stalwarts Amy Burns and Tara Bickham, fought hard to restrict a nine-goal quarter time deficit to six at half time, with Shana Bain and Courtney Nash being particularly effective. However, the second was the only quarter the Burras were able to win, and although they made life tough for their opponents all day Caulfield had the class and the smarts to record a 46-36 win.
Mordialloc certainly didn’t have things all their own way against a plucky Hampton Park for whom a win can’t be far away. The experienced duo of Sophie Durnan and Emma Houghton were at their industrious best as they outworked the Hampton Park mid-court. The move of Emily Morris out to goal attack proved pivotal as she converted 31 opportunities and also created space well for shooter Lucy McKeown. For Hampton Park, Khloe Weaver and Ellen Anthony continued their consistent seasons at both ends of the court, and Megan Egbers again fought hard for her 25 goals, but Mordialloc won every quarter in a 53-40 win that keeps them in fourth place.
St Pauls kept their finals hopes alive in a hard-fought 45-30 victory over a depleted St Kilda City. City had been robbed of their first-choice defensive combination and their main goal shooter, and the first half showed the lack of rhythm that this brings as St Pauls won each quarter by six to establish a decisive 25-13 half time advantage. City fought hard after the break and, as they often have this season, took the honours in the third quarter, with Katie Lindqvist quelling the influence of Grace Healey, and Laura Browning finding her shooting range at the attacking end. St Pauls steadied in the last stanza however, and were untroubled in finally winning by 15.
Dingley had their first win in nine encounters against Heatherton, and in doing so took top spot on the ladder from them in the Round 8 match of the day. Heatherton were deprived of three of their best performers, with the Mifsud sisters and Natalie Billings all absent, and this robbed them of a lot of attacking presence which was expertly exploited by the Dingley machine. Kirsty Clark was excellent in the last line of defence for the victors in conceding only two goals to her opposition shooter in the first half, and the industry and experience of Sara Merkus and Shae Wonnacott were instrumental in feeding Laura Piper, who netted a further 26 times to add to her burgeoning season tally. For the vanquished, Jaya Blanthorn worked hard in defence all day, and Maggie Carlon and Khristine Tilly had their moments in the middle of the court, but it was not enough to prevent Dingley from scoring a 45-30 victory.
Division 2 is proving to have as many twists and turns as Division 1. Cheltenham leads the way after their clinical 53-25 disposal of the Clayton challenge. This game was put to bed in the third quarter; where the shooting pair of Annabelle Gorman and Alex Siedle blew open a game which to that point had been relatively even. The surprise result of the day occurred when South Yarra shut down the potency of the Caulfield attack, and took advantage effectively enough to post a comfortable 38-29 victory. Caulfield’s loss allowed Murrumbeena into second place. Alice Williams netted 33 times for the Beena as they withstood a late charge from an inspired Bentleigh line-up to emerge victorious by 54-45. Heatherton continue to shake off their early season lethargy, and they climb into the top four for the first time after dismantling Keysborough to win by 58-23. The damage was done in the middle quarters, with Mia McMillan and Alicia Quinn combining to post 32 goals to Keysborough’s six. The Dingley derby had kicked things off on the Thursday night, and Dingley Red’s tough 24-23 win over Dingley Yellow brought them level with their intra club rivals, trailing Heatherton only by percentage.
Dingley Gold’s 50-30 victory over Dingley Yellow gives them top billing in Division 3. The unstoppable force that is Bianca Waras-Carstensen added another 43 goals to her season tally and Eliza Hewitson was also excellent in the middle of the court for the victors, who were never headed in this game. St Kilda City in second were given a heck of a fright by sixth-placed Cheltenham, having to come from five goals down at half time and only taking the lead in the last term before winning by 37-35. Heatherton also had a scare, their comfortable three-quarter time lead against last-placed Mordialloc being eroded by a Brooke Davies-inspired last quarter challenge before they were able to hold on by 37-32. Dingley Red’s reverse leaves the door to the finals ajar for Black Rock, whose dominant first half set up their 45-34 win over Caulfield; while Lyndale moved clear of the bottom two, never being troubled after a 12-1 opening quarter in beating Bentleigh by 44-25.
Murrumbeena remains as the only unbeaten side in Division 4 after a 52-29 eclipsing of Heatherton White. Holli Dent played brilliantly in defence for the victors, only conceding six goals to her opponents for the day while her colleagues made merry in attack. Heatherton Black led St Kilda City by 28-8 at half time and went on with the job to win by 51-25 and take second spot, while Caulfield Yellow remain third after being pushed all the way by a patched-up South Yarra, before winning by 52-46. CPL in fourth pressed the pedal to the floor in winning every quarter against Hampton Park, the final margin being 59-32. Caulfield Blue came from the clouds in the last quarter to snatch a 37-37 draw from Mordialloc which benefits neither side in their chase for the top four, while Keysborough climbed off the foot of the ladder in most emphatic fashion with a slashing 66-32 win over Springvale Districts.
Three sides came into this round unbeaten in Division 5. There are now two after third-placed Lyndhurst’s 48-34 defeat of Oakleigh District drops the Oaks from first to fourth. Aspendale narrowly hold top spot on percentage after they led Black Rock from barrier to box before finally winning by 41-24. Dingley Gold also remained unbeaten after being too strong in the Thursday night Dingley derby by 34-23, sitting a mere 4.06% beneath the leaders. East Brighton’s 40-12 victory over Cheltenham leaves them only out of the top four on percentage, while Highett’s 35-23 win over St Kilda City means that their narrow finals hopes remain alive.
Mordialloc Red continue to take all before them in Division 6, remaining undefeated as the crack shooting combination of Touri Bowtell and Indy de Vries racked up another 68 goals against fourth placed Clayton. Lyndale were not troubled against Caulfield, conceding only four goals at the tricky northern end of court 10 on their way to a 46-21 victory and retaining second place in the process. Keysborough missed their chance to jump into the top four as third-placed Doveton Eagles increased their lead at every change in their 46-24 triumph, while South Yarra kept their hopes alive with a 37-21 win over St Kilda City. Dingley were too good for Mordialloc White in a hard-fought defensive battle, prevailing by 19-16, while in the last match Bentleigh took their first points of the season, with Rebecca Smith and Kariana Alexander particularly strong in defence in a 28-21 win over Hallam.
Lyndhurst and Dingley are still to taste defeat in Division 7. Lyndhurst had to do it the hard way this week, being level with East Brighton at the last change before winning by 40-34. Dingley were slightly more comfortable against Cheltenham, establishing a 12-goal lead in the first half and holding it to win by 45-33. Hampton take third after walloping a game but undermanned Mount Waverley by 57-9, while Murrumbeena in fourth were equally convincing after an even first quarter in dispensing with Springvale Districts by 52-20. Heatherton kept up the chase in the finals race with a see-sawing 32-30 win over CPL, while Doveton Eagles kept in touch with the top sides by prevailing in an entertaining clash with Aspendale by 40-32.
First played last in Division 8, but Hallam Red only beat Keysborough through a dominant second quarter, with 35-23 being the final margin. Lyndhurst and Highett remain the main challengers, with Highett drawing level on points with the Lightning after reigning in an early deficit to beat them by 41-36. Hallam Yellow led all day against Lyndale before scoring a 40-21 win that allows them to replace the Pumas in the top four, while Oakleigh District had the bye.
Black Rock flexed their muscle in Division 9, with a clinical defensive display giving them a 42-16 win over Springvale Districts Red and retaining top spot in the process. South Yarra beat Heatherton and jumped over them into second spot in doing so, never being seriously challenged in a 40-16 win that throws down the gauntlet to the rest of the division. Lyndhurst were impregnable against Clayton in a 52-6 victory that gives them a mortgage on fourth place.
Possibly the most popular win in the whole of the SFNL in 2018 came when Springvale Districts Blue scored their first win in Division 9. These girls have won plenty of admirers with their spirit and good humour. Here they beat Dingley and did so with some aplomb, taking a one-goal lead to the main break and establishing a lead in the so-called premiership quarter to win by 33-27, and take a richly deserved success that has put a smile on many faces coming into Round 9.