Dingley star Alicia Wise and Heatherton Black ace Zali Mifsud joined Mel and Hugh to discuss all things SFNL Netball on this week’s episode of Nothing But Net. Listen back to Sunday’s Nothing But Net podcast in the player above.
By Hugh Maclean
Division 1 clashes between Dingley and Heatherton Black are always amongst the biggest events in any SFNL netball season. Dingley approached this clash of the local titans knowing that victory would make the minor premiership a certainty, but it was their opponents that saw this as an opportunity to flex their own muscle.
Caulfield took on Bentleigh knowing that a win would put them within striking distance of the top two if the planets aligned for them, and as if starstruck by the opportunity they failed to take early advantage of the plethora of possession provided by their mid-court. Bentleigh, buoyed by the previous week’s victory, took it right up to their illustrious opponents and trailed by only one at quarter time, but here was when the Caulfield wagon really began to roll. They began to combine better and, more importantly, finish better in a strong wind that tested the best of shooters, to extend their surplus to 10 at the main break and 18 turning for home. That finished the game as a contest, and with the attacking combination of Beth Wilson and Georgia Heenan still finishing the good work of those further afield, Caulfield were able to coast to a 51-29 win.
Keysborough went into battle with Heatherton White knowing that defeat would virtually kill off their finals aspirations for 2017. From the outset, however, this never looked likely to happen. Keysborough went into the match with their strongest line-up on the court for one of the rare occasions this season, and straight away their mid-court led by the zippy Megan Kennedy and the industrious Courtney Nash set about outplaying, and outworking, their young opponents. With shooting at the northern end particularly difficult, the Burras took a 10-4 lead to quarter time. The second term was more even, but with Tara Bickham and Jaimee Plumb conquering the wind well Keysborough led by eight at the main break and thirteen at three-quarter time. White threw everything they had at Keysborough early in the final stanza but the Burras were able to steady and close out a solid 35-23 victory.
St Kilda City took on an in-form St Pauls knowing that victory would see them draw level with the side in fourth spot. However this proved to be a day on which everything that could go wrong for City, did. Without the usual Joneses in the attacking goal circle, they were forced to pair mid-courters Louise Moetu and Chloe Ballard at times with Rosie Augl as shooters. St Pauls were without Meg Geschke, Caitlyn Lewis and Ann Cooper, but were able to fashion plenty of opportunities for attackers Grace Healey and Alice Williams, who were able to counter the tricky conditions with greater aplomb than their opposite numbers. A 12-6 quarter time lead was not insurmountable, but from there City’s passes refused to stick and their shots refused to drop as St Pauls increased their lead steadily. A 46-16 final margin was an accurate reflection of the dominance of a St Pauls side continuing to find their feet in Division 1.
Heatherton Black started slightly the better against Dingley, scoring the first two goals after multiple early turnovers as both sides settled. The Mifsud sisters were prominent early in the middle of the court for Black while Dingley’s Rolls Royce Shae Wonnacott was forced from the court mid-term after a knock caused blood to be drawn. A 13-9 quarter time lead to Black did not foreshadow the dominance of the second term as a desperate Black always seemed to be a step ahead of their Dingley foes, and their shots hit the mark while Dingley’s did not. Black kept Dingley to just three goals whilst scoring ten of their own, and although the second half remained a real contest the damage was done. The mid-court battle between Taylah Fiddes and Heatherton pocket rocket Steph Peacocke was a glimpse of the future of these netball clubs, and while Bridget Furphy and Jess Payne began to find their range for Dingley, Rahni Samason and Nat Billings were able to score enough for Black to score a 47-31 win which keeps the race for top spot alive, at least for another week.
Heatherton’s unbeaten run in Division 2 shows no sign of ending any time soon. Fourth-placed South Yarra would have fancied their chances of giving the Tunners a stern test on a difficult day for flowing netball. Instead they found themselves on the end of a 62-22 walloping as the black and whites looked to send a message on the run in to finals. Second-placed Dingley looked to assert some authority of their own against their nearest rivals Caulfield, but were made to struggle all the way against the steadily improving Bears. A margin of 35-29 suggests that Dingley can take nothing for granted should they face lower ranked opposition in August. Mordialloc’s 45-37 win over Bentleigh all-but insures them against the wooden spoon, while St Kilda City had the bye. While the top three sides can prepare for finals action, St Kilda City and South Yarra in the final round will be a winner-take-all shootout for fourth spot should the Round 14 results go according to the form book.
Clayton and Heatherton both have 10 wins in Division 3, with the Clays taking pole position with two rounds to play having had one fewer match than Heatherton. Clayton’s second bye was this week as Heatherton gave CPL a stern examination, winning their clash by 50-22. Dingley can finish no lower than third after their 45-21 defeat of Lyndale, but here’s where it gets interesting. St Kilda City would not have budgeted on a 42-30 loss to Black Rock, and with matches against the top two sides in the last two rounds they become vulnerable to Keysborough, who could potentially tip them out of the finals with a win over CPL in the final round. Keysborough stayed in the race with a solid 30-16 win over Caulfield.
Division 4 seems to change in complexion from week to week, but looks as though it will be fought out between the two Dingley sides and the two Heatherton sides. Dingley Gold retain their position at the top table with a 53-24 demolition of the in-form Mordialloc. Heatherton White’s comprehensive 40-12 victory over South Yarra gives it a firm hold on second place, while Dingley Red remains at their heels after beating fourth-placed Heatherton Black by 44-16. St Kilda City missed their opportunity to draw level on points with White after a costly 33-31 reverse against Black Rock, whilst Keysborough left Caulfield at the foot of the ladder with a 35-27 win.
Wins to the top five sides in Division 5 mean that the picture doesn’t change that much. Caulfield won on forfeit over Highett to keep a four point advantage over Lyndhurst (57-24 winners over Dandenong), and Dingley (53-40 over sixth-placed Skye). Heatherton’s 50-22 win over St Pauls keeps it safe in fourth spot, four points ahead of Cheltenham (51-20 winners over Bentleigh), and the aforementioned Skye. St Kilda City’s 44-11 win over East Brighton rounds out the week that sees various permutations still possible two games out from finals.
Division 6’s final four seems set, although Mordialloc’s meritorious 33-26 win over Dingley Gold not only leaves them with a mathematical chance of finals action, but drops Gold from first to fourth. Top spot is taken by Doveton after their percentage-boosting 63-18 win over last placed St Kilda City. Heatherton’s 36-21 success against Aspendale gives them second, while Dingley Red scraped home by 20-19 against Hallam to assume third spot. Clayton’s 40-15 win over Lyndale comes too late for them to make a play for the top four, while South Yarra move past Mount Waverley with their 58-16 victory.
Dingley took on Oakleigh District in a top two battle in Division 7, and have one hand on the minor premiership after a hard-fought 21-16 victory. Lyndhurst won’t have completely given up on taking second spot after beating Chelsea Heights by 30-19, albeit with a difficult run home, whilst CPL’s 43-23 win over Cheltenham coupled with East Brighton’s slightly unexpected 33-31 loss to Hampton gives CPL the inside running for fourth spot. Heatherton had a strong 35-21 win over St Kilda City, while Doveton were too good for Murrumbeena by 40-31.
Keysborough and Mordialloc both maintained their long unbeaten runs in Division 8. The Burra’s 37-22 win over Caulfield means that they haven’t tasted defeat all season, while Mordialloc haven’t been on the wrong end of the scoreline since Round 1, their 45-17 win over Hallam keeping that record intact. Dingley’s 25-21 loss to Mount Waverley all but puts paid to their chances of breaking into the top two, while Lyndhurst’s 40-25 win over Dandenong means that the top four is set. South Yarra outlasted Black Rock by 31-20, while Lyndale 30 beat Heatherton 7. Keysborough will be tested by Mordialloc and Lyndhurst in the final two rounds before finals in a fascinating end to the Division 8 season.