By Matt Fotia
It’s the first week of the Division Two Finals as we look at the two qualifying finals along with casting an eye over Woori Yallock’s crucial clash with Narre Warren, Olinda Ferny Creek and Cranbourne going head to head on the netball court and outline the miracle that Doveton have to pull off to make the Division One Netball finals.
It’s the weekend preview.
Starting in Premier Division we see a battle between second and third as Woori Yallock travel out to Kalora Park for the first time, as the Tigers and Magpies battle it out for a second time this season.
Last time they played in round eight, Narre Warren flexed their muscles, making the most out of a pair of strong inside midfield games from Dylan Quirk and Trent Cody, winning the clearances and dominating on the outside on their way to a 66 point win.
Potency has been the strong point of the Magpies 2019 campaign. They’ve scored 217 more points than any other side this season and have been led well down forward by mid sized gun Daniel Jackson who has 43 goals thus far this season. He booted six last time against the Tigers and has 15 goals in the past three outings for the black and white army.
Woori Yallock should be able to cover the defensive end of the field with Michael Batten and Michael Riseley enjoying good seasons, Batten in particularly impressive all season. They also have the midfield depth to match the Magpies and will be hoping that the likes of Hayden Smith, Kane Thompson and co learnt from their mistakes in round eight, where they overcommitted to the contest.
It’ll be about whether or not the Tigers are able to take their chances, with their own potency – and accuracy – one of the things holding back Woori Yallock this season. Last weekend was a step in the right direction as they managed 43 scoring shots against Upwey-Tecoma – who were coming off a victory over Wandin – with Mitch Arnold and Ben Monkhorst kicking five, ruckman Zach Monkhorst booted four.
Both sides have a fair bit riding on this game. Should Narre Warren win they’ll remain a strong chance of pinching top spot off Berwick in the last round, whilst should Woori Yallock grab an unlikely victory, they’ll go a step closer to finishing third and also strengthen their premiership claims.
In Division One Pakenham are just one win away from grabbing a well earned week off as they continue to improve as the season rolls on. The Lions have lost just one game since round five when they went down to Mount Evelyn away from home. They had 17 scoring shots to the Rovers 11 but still went down by four points, kicking 11 behinds.
Last weekend they ran away from Doveton in the third quarter, yet again managing to keep ahold of their opponent, minimising their scoring opportunities. The third placed Doves managed just two goals and 10 scoring shots to three quarter time.
Pakenham’s round 18 opponents, Officer have felt the full force of Pakenham’s stranglehold this year, having managed just 15.14 across eight quarters of football against them this season.
The Roos however have been scoring freely of late. Their lowest score in the past five weeks is 85 against Mount Evelyn and they’re the highest scorers in the division, with 1400 points for.
No other side has passed 1300.
Doug Koop’s side have an outside chance of finishing third with a win over the Lions and will be looking for one of their attacking trio – Clarke (35 goals), Hanson (29) and Moloney (27) – to fire and buck the trend of low scores against the Lions.
The Division Two Qualifying Final pits Yarra Junction and Kinglake against each other for a third time in 2019, with the sides level at one win apiece so far this year.
The Eagles pumped the Lakers in round eight, winning by 88 points, with their frantic, play on at all costs, pacey football hitting their opponents right between the eyes early on. They managed eight goals to two in the first quarter that day, with Ewan Wadsworth booting five from his on ball role across that afternoon.
The Eagles high octane game allows them to isolate their forwards one on one, where the likes of David Johnson, Tyson Wheeler and Sam Morton can exploit their opponents and find the goals at will.
Kinglake know they have to match the Yarra Junction midfield to stand any chance, and will be following their round 17 blueprint of getting in front early and controlling the tempo. The Lakers kicked six goals to none in the first quarter on that occasion before maintaining that margin throughout the day.
Woori Yallock, the venue for Saturday’s game, has deep wings which should provide Andrew Fairchild’s side plenty of room for some high uncontested marking numbers, should they look to control the tempo of the game.
All of this relies on the abilities of the Lakers midfield to break even early in the game. The Robinson’s, Rohan King, Lesley Adams and Mason McAllister have all had good seasons, but the real stuff starts now.
Staying at Woori Yallock, Kinglake are also in the running to face the minor premier as they take on Seville in the A Grade Qualifying Final. Seville have defeated Kinglake on both occasions this season, with the margins nine and eight goals respectively.
The Blues have clearly been a step above all sides bar the indomitable Yea Tigers in 2019 and will enter this game high on confidence, seeing they defeated Kinglake just last weekend.
They were led by the defensive Stephanie’s (McNay and Durant) in the round nine win over the Lakers as they kept their opponents to just 33 goals. The Blues are of course the number one ranked defensive side in the division.
However, despite going down again last weekend, Kinglake will feel like they’ve made inroads managing 42 goals as Billie Cvijetic shot 33 goals, working her way around McNay, Durant and co.
The two sides met in this same fixture last season, also played at Woori Yallock. Kinglake ran out victors on that occasion and will also be preying on some mental demons from the Blues. If Seville can push those aside, they should book themselves a spot in the second semi-final.
Doveton are facing an almost impossible task to make the Division One top five as they travel out to Warburton Millgrove for the second time this season, their third meeting this year. The Burras won the round two fixture by 17 goals, but lost the away leg by 12 goals in round nine.
After a disappointing second half to the year, the Doves have slipped to a game and 13.33% behind the fifth placed Burras, after being as high as third at one stage. Warburton Millgrove have contrastingly had an upturn in form after the midway point, coming from sixth to near security come the final round.
To make the top five, the Doves must defeat Warburton Millgrove by around 45 goals. The margin could be as little as 40 goals, but that would require Doveton keeping the Burras scoreless for the entire game. Considering the scoring power of Bianca Daniels, it might be best for the girls in green to focus on the 45 goal margin.
They’d not only have to produce their biggest win of the season, but they’d also have break there highest score for the season in the process. They’ve only managed over 45 goals twice this year, scoring 46 against Belgrave in round four and 48 against Belgrave in round six.
It seems unlikely, but who knows, perhaps Bianca Daniels crew will slip up. We’ll have to wait and see.
In the Premier Division, Cranbourne host Olinda Ferny Creek as the Bloods face their last realistic challenger before the upcoming finals series.
The Eagles will be breathing fire after last weekends unexpected loss to Narre Warren and would like nothing more than to send shockwaves of their own through the division by knocking off the impressive Bloods.
Last time out they sent 2018 SEFNL Best and Fairest winner and Peninsula Waves defender Tara Cecil to the competition’s leading goal scorer Peri Stewart. Cecil was named the Eagles best player in a 25 goal loss and performed well against the Bloods goal scoring machine but the Eagles may look at playing their star defender higher up the court this weekend though, in an attempt to see her impact more of the court.
To beat Olinda Ferny Creek it isn’t all about being defensively solid either, you have be ready to take your chances.
Cranbourne’s goalers, Tahlia Coates (323 goals), Shannon Johns (139) and Alanah Hardy (24 goals last weekend), will have to be on their game, as opportunities don’t come as regularly as usual against Olinda Ferny Creek.
This game shapes up as possible preview for a preliminary or grand final, and if both sides play their usual brands of netball, onlookers will be in for a treat.