Injury and illness didn’t stop the Hawks in Round 12 of the Victorian Netball League, with two teams coming away with wins against Casey Demons and another going down in a close one.
An already depleted Hawks Championship line-up was put under further pressure when injury and illness forced another three players out on match day.
With only four of the team’s originally selected players available to take the court, Division 1 and 19/Under players were called in to take on the Demons, who triumphed by 21 goals when the teams met in Round 3.
But it was a different story this time around, with the Hawks pushing Casey all the way.
A high-scoring first quarter saw Casey take a 16-14 lead, but the Hawks hit back in the second quarter to narrow the gap to a single goal, as Division 1 goaler Daisy Hill (42 goals from 52 attempts) found her range with 14 from 14.
The reintroduction of former Melbourne Vixen Emma Ryde, in combination with former Australian Diamond Erin Bell, saw Casey start to edge clear in the third quarter, but the Hawks hung tough and stayed in the game to trail 39-44 at the final change.
Chances went begging in the fourth quarter, allowing Casey to slowly extend their advantage and run out 56-47 winners, but there was still plenty of cause for optimism at the Hawks.
In a positive sign for the future, Hill, Division 1 defender Sally Deller, 19/Under midcourter Abi Inglis and 19/U goaler Ellie Karaula all saw Championship court time in the second half and acquitted themselves extremely well.
The Hawks’ Division 1 team moved to within half a game of second spot on the ladder with an impressive 24-goal win against Casey.
With regular bookends Daisy Hill and Sally Deller called up into Championship, the Hawks didn’t miss a beat, posting their highest score for the season and their ninth win from 12 games.
Casey came out firing in the first quarter, leading throughout the opening minutes before the Hawks settled at both ends, scoring heavily towards the end of the term to open up a 16-10 lead.
Both teams found easy passage to goal in the second quarter, but Monique Lenehan-Moustafa (31 from 36) and Elle Rice’s (22 from 22) perfect 16-from-16 shooting saw the margin extended to eight goals – 32-24 – at the long break.
The Hawks put their foot down in the third quarter, with 19/Under defender Olivia Spence teaming well with centre Jasmine Ferguson and defenders Chloe Sinclair and Emily Kay to hold the Demons to eight goals, while at the other end 19/Under goaler Hannah Keane (14 from 17) made her Division 1 debut and looked right at home, helping to add another 16 goals for a 48-32 lead.
A 17-9 final quarter saw the Hawks kick again for a 65-41 win.
The game also marked a happy return to the court for defender Beth Chiuchiarelli, who was sidelined in Round 2 last year with an ACL injury.
The Hawks bounced back from a disappointing one-goal loss in Round 11 to beat Casey 60-48.
In what was a season-high goals tally, the win was setup in the first half, with both quarters netting 17 goals to help the Hawks establish a 34-21 lead as goalers Kara Morrison (20 from 26) and Olivia Morris (40 from 47) fired early.
While not the cleanest game from the Hawks, both ends played their role at key moments to keep the Demons at arm’s length.
The Hawks pushed their lead to 14 goals at three-quarter time, before running out comfortable 12-goal winners.
The result sees the Hawks move up to fifth spot on the ladder, putting them squarely in the finals hunt and only half a game behind the fourth-placed Southern Saints.