VNL RD 3: HAWKS DIV 1 WIN BLAZE THRILLER
It was another big night for Hawks Netball in Round 3 of the Victorian Netball League, with our teams taking on DC North East Blaze, whose three sides all played finals in 2017.
There were mixed results, with one team remaining undefeated, one almost pulling off a huge upset and one presenting a major challenge for much of the game.
Here’s our wrap of Round 3.
Hawks Netball’s Division 1 team has continued its unbeaten start to the year, knocking off last year’s grand finalists DC North East Blaze, 51-48 in Round 3.
A slow start again forced the Hawks to grind it out, with the team down 6-14 at quarter-time and facing a stiff headwind to get back into the game.
But a goaling change and a lift in defensive pressure saw the Hawks start to drag the margin back, holding Blaze to just 10 goals for the quarter while netting 15 themselves to be only three goals down at half-time.
Another 16 goals in the third term shaved the gap to a single goal.
There was nothing in it in the final quarter, with Blaze looking like they might pull clear, before the Hawks again hit back, levelling the scores in the dying minutes and then hitting the front after critical intercepts from goal defence Chloe Sinclair and wing defence Enya Broadley.
A couple of last-minute goals were enough for the Hawks to hang on for a memorable three-goal win.
Sinclair said the team had taken confidence from a strong pre-season win against Blaze and carried it into the game.
“With our strong performance during pre-season, we knew that we could compete with them,” she said.
“Our main goal was just to play the way we all knew we could, which we hadn’t quite been doing for the full four quarters every game.”
Sinclair said her teammates had played with real poise against one of the competition’s toughest sides.
“We made sure we played our own game and didn’t fall into the fast pace that Blaze puts on court,” she said.
“The team really came together as a unit and every single player on and off the court was an integral part of the win.”
Hawks Netball’s Championship division team staged a remarkable comeback but came up just short against 2017 VNL winners DC North East Blaze.
Down by 11 goals in the game’s middle stages, and missing a number of players through absence and injury, the Hawks rallied hard in the third and fourth quarters, with Tayla Shannon (nine goals from nine attempts) providing a spark at goal attack and also in unfamiliar territory at wing attack.
Pulling within striking distance with 10 minutes to go, the Hawks looked set to pull off an unlikely victory, with Kim Commane (34/36) dominating under the post and wing attack Lil O’Sullivan and centre Kelsey Buxton continuing to find a way through the Blaze defence.
But Blaze shooter Elizabeth Nicol (47/49) provided enough scoring power for her team to inch ahead in the final minutes for a 57-53 result.
Hawks’ 19/U team battled hard against the undefeated Blaze, going goal for goal with them throughout much of the first half to be three goals down at the long break.
Young defenders Gemma Thomas and Chelsea Bowman (on debut for the Hawks) did well to keep the high-scoring Blaze outfit to just 24 goals at half-time and 48 by game’s end, while wing defence Holly Keating had her best game in Hawks colours, hunting anything the opposition put in the air.
Hayley Matthews (13 goals from 17 attempts) also impressed at goal attack as her team took the challenge right up to the perennial finalists.
Blaze’s pressure began to tell in the third quarter, with their 21 goal attempts to 11 allowing them to turn their three-goal lead into eight – 37-29.
Hawks added five goals to their score in the last quarter, with Blaze putting in another nine to finish 46-34 winners.
The Hawks take to the court for VNL Round 4 against Southern Saints next Wednesday, May 10, from 7pm at the State Netball Hockey Centre.