By Hugh Maclean
Round 11 of 2017 saw the top three sides in Division 1 all posting convincing victories, but the fourth game proved to be a contender for match of the year status.
Caulfield shot out of the blocks like rockets in their clash with Keysborough, and were excellent value for their 14-5 quarter time lead. They took early control of the mid-court battle and, led by the strong drives and incisive passing of Steph Clemons and the calm authority of Fotini Stavrou, they fed ample opportunities to their shooters. In the second quarter Keysborough started to give as good as they got, Laura Agius especially starting to get on top in an effort to decrease the deficit, but Caulfield put enough scoreboard pressure on to maintain the status quo. Keysborough got within eight at the last change, but that was as far as their challenge went as Caulfield pulled away to win by 50-30.
Heatherton Black may have been missing Kirsten Daley and Nat Billings to VNL duties, and Zali Mifsud at the AIS, but the deputies from Heatherton’s division three and four sides came in without missing a beat. Again, Heatherton Black looked to place quality beneath each post, with Ella Batish taking the main defensive position while Rahni Samason commanded the attacking goal circle. The promoted Teaghan Avery worked her socks off in the mid-court, playing several intelligent passes into attack as the girls in black sent a threatening message to the rest of the competition. Bentleigh were as game as they come but were no match for the strength of Heatherton, with the final margin being 71-25.
Dingley were in no mood to take any prisoners in their clash with St Pauls. The Saints were without main attacking weapon Grace Healey, and industrious worker Michaela Hayes, and came up against a Dingley unit intent on sharpening up combinations for the big matches ahead. While the experienced axis of the three-time premiership sides looks as hungry as ever, youngsters such as Taylah Fiddes in the centre and Jess Payne in attack grow in stature with each outing. Here they took control early on, leading by ten at the first break and extending that to 35-9 at half time. While St Pauls battled gamely after half time the dam broke in the last quarter, as Dingley added 24 goals to just three to finally win by 72-21.
St Kilda City played Heatherton White with fourth place at stake, and all four quarters seemed to follow the same pattern with City matching White early in the quarters, but White taking control in the final minutes before each break. Saints made the early running but found Mia McMillan in excellent shooting form at the other end to keep White in the game, with White converting the last three goals of the first term to lead 11-9 at the first break. The two-goal margin remained at half time, with the Saints feeling they may have let an opportunity slip to pull clear, before a pulsating third quarter saw the scores tied at 28-28 before White again pulled away to lead 33-29 turning for home. St Kilda soon found some momentum to level at 38-38, and both sides went goal-for-goal through the middle of the final quarter before the earlier pattern again emerged, with Mia McMillan and Taylor Butterworth landing the last three goals of the game to give Heatherton White a 45-42 victory that allows them to hold fourth place, four points and percentage clear of City with four rounds to play.
Heatherton played Dingley in Division 2 in one of several top-two clashes throughout the grades this round. Dingley were keen to end Heatherton’s undefeated record this season and draw level on points, but Heatherton once more flexed their muscle to send the message that the minor premiership is theirs to lose. A margin of 40-28 was indicative of their superiority. Caulfield held on to third spot despite an unexpected reverse against a St Kilda City side that hasn’t given up hope of tasting finals netball. Whilst Caulfield had their moments, St Kilda City were too strong on the day, emerging victorious by 37-29. South Yarra kept an eight-point advantage over City in fourth place by disposing of Bentleigh by 45-29, while Mordialloc had the bye.
Clayton maintained their position atop the Division 3 ladder with a titanic 33-29 victory over Dingley, hence relegating Dingley to third. Heatherton go past the Dingoes by beating Caulfield by 56-46, while St Kilda City’s 42-28 win over CPL gives them a break of six points over fifth placed Keysborough. Keysborough’s 29-28 win over Lyndale probably leaves the Pumas with too much to do to play finals, while Black Rock had the weeks’ break.
Heatherton White lead the way in Division 4, pushing clubmates Heatherton Black from second to third with their 48-38 victory. Dingley Gold’s narrow 49-47 win over a gallant Black Rock means that they take second spot, while St Kilda City’s 37-32 win over Caulfield and Dingley Red’s 36-25 reverse at the hands of Keysborough means that City break the Heatherton/Dingley domination of the top four places. Elsewhere Mordialloc continued their strong late season form with their third win straight, 38-33 over South Yarra.
Caulfield won the top-of-the-table clash with Dingley to go four points clear of the chasing Division 5 pack. Lyndhurst’s 54-13 victory over Bentleigh means that they take second spot over Dingley by percentage. Heatherton scored a massive 82-9 victory over a depleted Dandenong to keep a four-point break in fourth, over Skye (41-19 winners over St Pauls), and Cheltenham (47-28 conquerors of St Kilda City). Elsewhere East Brighton were forced to forfeit against Highett.
The top four sides in Division 6 look likely to play finals, holding an eight-point break over the rest of the competition. All four were winners this weekend (Doveton by 33-24 over South Yarra, Dingley Gold by 50-41 over Aspendale, Heatherton by 36-20 over Hallam, and Dingley Red by 67-18 over Lyndale). Mordialloc look the only side that could break into the four, their 37-31 win over Mount Waverley keeping their slight hopes alive. Clayton defeated last placed St Kilda City by 59-46.
Dingley were beaten for the first time in Division 7, a rampant East Brighton getting the better of them to the tune of 36-29. Oakleigh District closed to within four points of top spot with a solid 39-21 win over Heatherton. East Brighton and Lyndhurst (49-34 winners over CPL), are ten points further back but both have played a game less than the top two, meaning that they are still a chance of finishing in the top two. Elsewhere Hampton triumphed over Cheltenham by the barest possible margin, 32-31. Doveton 33 beat St Kilda City 13, and Chelsea Heights broke through for their first win of the season, celebrating a 36-24 win over Murrumbeena.
Keysborough remained unbeaten in Division 8 after an emphatic 81-11 win over Dandenong. Mordialloc have the same number of points but have played one game extra: they were made to work all the way by Lyndale before posting a 26-21 victory. Dingley made finals all but a certainty by beating Heatherton by 29-27, while Lyndhurst are likely to hold fourth spot despite a surprise 37-26 loss to Black Rock. Hallam’s challenge continued with a 38-36 win over Caulfield meaning that they trail fourth placed Lyndhurst by eight points. In the final match, Mount Waverley 23 beat South Yarra 21.