Round 9 of the Bupa Victorian Netball League season presented the biggest challenge yet for Hawks Netball, with our teams facing off against Geelong Cougars, who sat atop the ladder in two divisions and in the top four in another.
Hawks Netball’s top team has reached the halfway point of the 2018 Victorian Netball League season in perfect position for a tilt at its first finals campaign in five years, after downing Geelong Cougars 64-60 in Round 9.
Both teams entered the game in equal top position on the ladder, along with Melbourne Uni Lightning, with the Hawks chasing their sixth consecutive win and Geelong reaching for their seventh.
In a freewheeling opening quarter it was the Hawks who emerged with their noses in front, leading 17-14.
Geelong lifted their defensive pressure in the second term, clogging the middle of the court and making scoring difficult, with the Hawks adding 14 goals to the Cougars’ 15 to see the lead cut to two at the long break.
The third quarter proved decisive, with Monique Tarrant entering the game at centre and immediately opening things up, while goal shooter Kim Commane’s 15 goals from 16 attempts went a long way to helping her secure her fourth consecutive best-on-court honour, and goal attack Tayla Shannon chipped in with five.
By quarter’s end the Hawks had added 20 goals to their tally to extend their lead to seven goals – 51-44.
Geelong would not be silenced, however, and fought back early in the final quarter to reduce the margin to two. But steady heads prevailed for the Hawks, who pushed the margin back out to four in the dying minutes to wrap up a fantastic result.
The Hawks will enjoy a 10-day break before starting the second half of the season with a home game against the seventh-placed Ariels on Saturday evening, June 23. GET YOUR TICKETS HERE.
The Hawks have moved to the top of the Division 1 ladder after a stunning 14-goal win against the previously undefeated Geelong Cougars.
There have been few tougher assignments in the last two seasons than tackling the Cougars’ Division 1 side, and the 2017 premiers were undefeated and leading the competition – with seven wins and draw – after eight rounds.
They deservedly started as favourites against the in-form Hawks, in what shaped as a must-see encounter between Division 1’s top two sides.
The Hawks announced their intent early, leading 14-12 at quarter-time as both teams struggled to keep their error count down.
Facing by a Cougars attacking line that had scored at least 59 goals in every game this season, the Hawks continued to apply full-court pressure in the second quarter and began to see results, keeping Geelong to just nine goals while Hawks shooter Daisy Hill (36/41) and goal attack Bridgette Furphy (16/23) scored 13 to take a 27-21 lead into half-time.
The Hawks broke the shackles in the third quarter, with defensive duo Chloe Sinclair – who was awarded best on court – and Clare Johnson holding Geelong to eight goals, while Furphy and Hill added 17 at the other end to blow the margin out to 15 goals.
From there the Hawks were able to ease home, with a 13-14 final quarter capping a memorable 57-43 win.
Hawks co-captain Olivia Gigli said after beating bogey side City West Falcons last week, the Cougars presented another huge challenge, both mentally and physically.
“Against a tough side it was nerve-wracking holding a lead for the whole game,” Gigli said.
“But our full team defence, probably our best for the whole season, enabled us to secure a comfortable win.
“We’re all super excited for an even stronger second half of the season.”
One tough quarter proved costly for the Hawks’ 19/U team, who were again fast-starters against competition heavyweights and 2017 premiers Geelong.
The Hawks were humming early, finding the circle edge with ease and creating plenty of scoring opportunities for goal shooter Ellie Karaula and goal attack Hayley Matthews, who shot a combined 14 from 15, while Chelsea Bowman and Gemma Thomas generated a heap of opportunities in defence.
But the Cougars had all the answers in a match-winning second quarter, netting 20 goals and holding the Hawks to just three to blow the game open and lead 33-17 at half-time.
The Hawks dug deep to respond in the third, matching Geelong’s 15 goals while trying some fresh combinations, before the Cougars again clicked into gear in the final quarter, scoring 17-10 to complete a 65-42 win.
The result sees Hawks in eighth position on the ladder and gearing up for a crucial home game clash against the sixth-placed Ariels on Saturday, June 23.