By Matt Fotia
The Battle of the Tigers, a crucial Premier Netball duel, the first week of the split round and a top of the table clash in Division Two. Read about all this and more in the weekend review below.
Yarra Junction dominated the Division Two Finals Series in 2018 winning all of its finals matches by more than 30 points, with the 96 point win over Seville to end their premiership drought the absolute cherry on top.
This year they’ve continued that form and are yet to lose a game to any of the top five sides that they’ve played. Yarra Glen came close, Seville copped a similar treatment to last seasons Grand Final and Gembrook-Cockatoo could only keep up for a half.
It’s form like this that means despite Kinglake’s perfect record in 2019, the Eagles will start heavy favourites this weekend.
Since their Round One loss to Powelltown, the Eagles have put the foot down kicking over 120 points on all but one occasion – their clash with Yarra Glen. They scored 123 against Gembrook-Cockatoo, 167 against Yea, a massive 177 against familiar foe Seville and 147 last time out against Thornton Eildon.
Sam Morton has 25 goals for the season including three bags of five and one of six.
He’s quick, he is opportunistic and he knows exactly where the goals are. Putting him together with the high flying David Johnson (20 goals), Kris Hall (12) and Tyson Wheeler (12) creates a scary proposition for the Lakers back six.
Luckily for Kinglake their defence is top notch. They’re yet to concede over 73 points this season with no side able to put the ball through the big sticks more than 10 times against them thus far. The efforts of Luke Hannah, Jayden Butterworth (who plays his 150th senior game this weekend) have been one of the key reasons behind the Lakers good defensive record, but also the ‘tempo’ football that new coach Andrew Fairchild has bought in.
This is helping ensure Kinglake don’t get caught out with numbers in front of the footy.
Saturday looms as one of the classic attack against defence encounters. If Kinglake can keep it tight it should set up a close match however if the Eagles get it on the outside early we could be looking at another brutal Eagles showing.
On the netball court Alexandra host Yarra Glen with the Rebels looking to hold their spot in the five. The two sides are evenly matched with identical 2-3 records.
The Rebels started well against Kinglake but scored just 19 goals after the first break to end on the losing side. Monique Mann was named second best for the Rebels whilst her fellow defender Brooke Lloyd has been impressive all season.
Mann and Lloyd will come up against the inform goaling combination of Moate and Hughes. Hughes has 92 goals this season with 19 against Yarra Junction and 28 against Powelltown with Moate having shot 54 of her seasons tally (68) goals in last two weeks.
The winner should see themselves move up into fourth place and become top of the second division within Division Two, with Kinglake, Yea and Seville having already created a breakaway top three.
The Division One split round sees Mount Evelyn host Belgrave and Doveton travel to Monbulk.
The Rovers are the third lowest scorers in Division One netball despite sitting second on the ladder. Their defensive style of play has been successful so far this season, but by nature it keeps the opposition interested at all times, with the margin never really getting out of their reach. One good quarter from their opponents could see them throw away the four points.
Belgrave are one of the better sides in attack and will be hoping to take advantage of that fact. Ellen Anthony (100 goals) and Naomi Hargreaves (87) the main culprits going forward for the Magpies, who need a win to stay in touch with the top five. An important clash for them.
Monbulk have surged up the table in recent weeks led by Steph Puopolo who has shot 157 of the 235 goals Monbulk have scored this season.
The Hawks have been defensively strong all season but started slowly failing to win their opening three games. Now with an attacking outlet of Puopolo’s quality they have shot up into third spot on the table, following wins over Emerald, Pakenham Lions and Warburton Millgrove.
For Doveton the equation is simple. If they can shut off the channel to Puopolo they can heap pressure on Goal Attack Sophie Stubbs to step up her goal scoring game.
The winner will sit inside the top five, loser risks being on the outer.
The Hawks are the number one football side in the Division. Undefeated, the number one attack and number one defence. They could be further ahead as an attacking unit as well if they’d kicked straighter early in the season.
Their opponents Doveton are the next best attacking side in the Division but will need to be on their game against the impressive defence of Monbulk.
The Hawks back six will pick off any fifty-fifty ball coming inside their defensive fifty meaning the Doves need be precise with their final delivery. They do have multiple avenues in their attacking arc so they won’t be short of options, it’s just about choosing the right one.
Elsewhere it’s a massive danger game for Mount Evelyn who host Belgrave. The Magpies are sitting at 1-6 but have been competitive in every fixture this season and their contested brand of football will suit the dimensions of the Rovers home track.
Mount Evelyn’s wins have all come when they’ve scored heavily. If Belgrave can put in a good defensive effort they could be halfway to a deserved victory.
It’s a massive Tiger battle in the Premier Division between Upwey-Tecoma and Woori Yallock.
For Woori Yallock it’s a massive opportunity to consolidate their position in the top three, as they’re currently a game clear of Cranbourne who take on ladder leaders Narre Warren, following their loss to Berwick last weekend. Should the Eagles lose that game, Woori can create a two game gap.
For Upwey-Tecoma a win is important for them to stay in touch with the five, but for the coach David Bell it may just be about put together a better performance.
Upwey have had three straight losses, all by 70 or more.
They conceded 47 scoring shots against Wandin on the weekend, despite kicking an impressive 15.11(101) themselves.
Upwey will need to be wary of Hayden Smith – the Woori Yallock number one is in red hot form.
His last three hitouts have seen him named as Woori Yallock’s second best, best and best, the latter performance giving him the Dreamtime Medal. If he continues this purple patch, Woori will be on their way to another four points – so don’t be surprised if Upwey send Bailey Oates his way.
There’s another similar clash on the netball court with Narre Warren hosting Cranbourne. The Magpies are sitting fourth on the table with a 3-3 record after an unexpected loss to Wandin in round five, whilst Cranbourne are sitting nicely in third spot.
The Eagles are a side built on defence, with Tara Cecil and Tiana Butler having fantastic starts to their 2019 campaign. They grabbed a comfortable win over Berwick after they jumped out of the blocks, keeping the Wickers to just two goals in the opening term.
The first quarter was a problem for Narre Warren in that loss to Wandin, with the Dogs opening up a six goal margin in the first. The Magpies did win the remainder of the game – but didn’t get the four points.
They’ve relied on Chloe Phillips to do the bulk of their scoring. She’s got 166 goals for 2019 and is second on the league goal scoring charts behind Olinda Ferny Creek’s Peri Stewart. Her partner in crime Tamika De Nardis will need to stand up on the weekend however, because Cecil and Butler will no doubt be able to limit the impact of Phillips.
The Eagles fancy themselves to have the right defensive set up to challenge the undefeated Olinda Ferny Creek when they get their opportunity, but need to keep their eyes on the prize for the time being.
A win against the Magpies will keep them in touch with Beaconsfield in second place and could also send Narre Warren down to fifth in the process.
Then they can think about next week.