HAWKS GEAR UP FOR VNL FINALS TILT
Hawks Netball’s Championship and Division 1 teams will face do-or-die semi-final clashes next Wednesday, after wrapping up the home and away season on Wednesday night.
Our Championship team finished the regular season in fourth spot and will take on City West Falcons in a knockout semi-final at the State Netball and Hockey Centre, while Division 1 finished third and will play Selkirk Sovereigns on the same court at 9.50pm.
Championship – Hawks vs City West Falcons – 8.25pm, Court 2
Division 1 – Hawks vs Selkirk Sovereigns – 9.5opm, Court 2
Here’s how Round 18 played out against Geelong Cougars.
Hawks’ Championship team will be channelling the form that took it to the top of the VNL ladder a month ago when it comes up against City West Falcons in the minor semi-final next week.
Having won 13 of 14 games through Round 14, including 11 in a row after Round 3, the Hawks haven’t quite recaptured that form in recent weeks, dropping their last four games of the season and coming up short, 47-66 against Geelong Cougars in Round 18.
The Hawks matched Cougars for most of the first quarter but battled to build pressure defensively, conceding 19 goals and trailing by six at the first break.
They began to generate more opportunities at both ends in the second term, holding Geelong to 13 goals while putting up 16 shots themselves, but with only 11 of those shots dropping, Geelong’s lead was eight at half-time.
In the third quarter the Hawks again pushed hard, threatening to close the gap and put themselves in with a chance, but Geelong continued to have answers, pushing their lead to 11 goals before putting their foot down in the final quarter to win by 19.
Hawks captain Nat Billings said that while the end of the season hadn’t quite gone to plan, finals were a very different proposition.
“We’re not too worried about the last couple of weeks. We’ve proven that we can beat every team in the competition and we’re just now looking to refocus and gear up for next Wednesday,” she said.
Billings said the “underdog” tag was one that the team had been embracing all season.
“At the start of the season we thrived on being underdogs, with teams underestimating us, so we’re sort of happy to be back in this position and we’re ready to go out on court next Wednesday with nothing to lose and give it our all.”
The Hawks’ Division 1 team will take confidence heading into their semi-final showdown against Selkirk Sovereigns after pushing minor premiers Geelong Cougars every step of the way in Round 18.
With the Hawks having inflicted one of only two Geelong losses for the season when the teams met in Round 9, the Cougars stepped things up from the outset and despite being challenged throughout, were able to hang on for a 53-47 win.
After a slow start, the Hawks rallied late in the first quarter and trailed 12-14 at quarter-time. It was goal for goal for much of the second quarter, with Cougars again doing just enough to increase their lead to 29-25 at half-time.
Opportunities went begging in the third quarter, with turnovers at a premium but the Hawks unable to convert a number of chances, though still very much in touch with Cougars on the scoreboard – trailing 35-41.
The Hawks defended stoically in the final quarter, with Clare Johnson and Chloe Sinclair grabbing five turnovers between them as the team closed to within three goals multiple times, but were unable to make that next jump as Cougars steadied to restore the six-goal margin by game’s end.
The Hawks’ 19/U team closed the book on its 2018 season with a 39-65 loss against Geelong Cougars.
In a similar result to when the teams met in Round 9, the Hawks were right with Geelong in the first quarter, keeping the finals-bound Cougars to 13 goals and behind by just four at quarter-time.
The Cougars stamped their authority on the match in the second and third quarters, scoring 18 and 20 goals respectively, to lead 27-51 at three-quarter time.
The Hawks saved their best for last, with 12 final-quarter goals their best return for the game, while stemming the flow at the other end to keep Geelong to 14.