HAWKS STRIKE LIGHTNING IN VNL ROUND 15
Two wins and a thrilling draw made for a memorable Round 15 of the Bupa Victorian Netball League for Hawks Netball.
Here’s our wrap of a big night of action against Melbourne Uni Lightning.
The Hawks’ Championship division team came up agonisingly short of its fifth win of the season, fighting out a thrilling 52-52 draw against the Lightning.
Despite leading at times throughout the match, the Hawks trailed at every change, with a one-goal quarter-time deficit becoming 22-25 at half-time before the gap was cut to one again with a quarter remaining.
Victory was within the Hawks’ sights as they took the lead midway through the final quarter, with Clare Johnson and Shannon Rennison providing a string of opportunities out of defence and gaolers Kim Commane and Tayla Shannon finishing at the other.
The Hawks led by two goals in the dying minutes before a contact call allowed the Lightning to level, and then gave them the chance to take the lead themselves.
Another defensive turnover inside the last 15 seconds gave the Hawks an opening, but with the Lightning double-teaming goal shooter Kim Commane under the post, a long bomb from the centre third with less than five seconds on the clock was batted away, and the clock ran out before the Hawks could inbound the ball and get a shot up.
The result leaves the Hawks in seventh position on the Championship, and take on Peninsula Waves (8th) and Boroondara Express (9th) in the next two weeks.
The Hawks’ Division 1 team will contest the finals series for the second consecutive year, after securing a hard-fought five-goal win against Melbourne Uni Lightning.
With three rounds remaining in the season, the Hawks’ 11th win lifted them to second place on the ladder, with fourth-placed Geelong Cougars only half a game behind and still to play their Round 15 match this weekend.
The battle for second spot appears destined to come down to the wire, with the Hawks to play third-placed Boroondara Express in Round 17, and ladder leaders North East Blaze in the final round, while Geelong will play Blaze in Round 17.
The Hawks were pushed every step of the way by Lightning on Wednesday night, trailing by two goals during the third quarter before pulling clear late in the game to win 52-47.
Led by 35 goals from shooter Daisy Hill and a solid four-quarter performance from 19/Under midcourter Sophie Hennessey at centre, the Hawks held a 13-11 advantage at quarter-time, but struggled to take their opportunities in the second term as the Lightning hit back to square the scores at 26-26.
Errors again cost the Hawks as Lightning took the lead in the third quarter, prompting the introduction of goal attack Monique Lenehan-Moustafa (11 from 14) and Gabby Henderson, who helped swing the momentum back in their team’s favour and grab a 36-34 lead at the last change.
The Hawks led by as many as seven in the final quarter but the Lightning wouldn’t lie down, closing to within two goals again with less than five minutes remaining, however some with goal keeper Sally Deller producing some timely intercepts, it was enough to see the Hawks home.
The 2019 VNL season is alive and kicking for the Hawks’ 19/Under team, who remain in the hunt for finals after recording their biggest win of the season.
A massive second quarter paved the way for the 69-39 result against the Lightning, as goalers Ellie Karaula and Hannah Keane piled on 20 goals between them to put the game all but beyond doubt at half-time with a 36-19 lead.
The Hawks added another 33 goals to 20 in the second half to complete an impressive performance and snap a run of four losses from their last five games.
With seven wins, they now sit in sixth spot on the ladder and only one game behind fourth-placed Ariels. Southern Saints, in fifth, are half a game ahead but are still to play their Round 15 game against Geelong this Sunday.
The Hawks will likely need to win all three of their remaining matches, and are set to play Peninsula Waves (2nd), Boroondara Express (7th) and North East Blaze (9th) in the last three rounds.