The Hawks fought out three tight contests against Boroondara Express in the penultimate round of the Bupa Victorian Netball League season.
Here’s how Round 17 played out.
A tough start to the second half cost the Hawks’ Championship division team a shot at the win against Boroondara Express.
The Hawks were out to atone for a one-goal loss the last time the two sides met in Round 9, but it wasn’t to be as Express piled on 36 goals after half-time to run out 57-48 winners.
Having closed a three-goal quarter-time margin to trail 20-21 at half-time, courtesy of a string of turnovers from goal keeper Clare Johnson and in-form wing defence Kelsey Buxton, the Hawks started the third quarter slowly, with the deficit quickly reaching double digits.
A late rally saw the gap cut to six goals at the final change, but while the Hawks had their highest-scoring quarter of the game with 16 goals in the final stanza, Express managed 19 of their own to run away with a nine-goal win.
The Hawks will face North East Blaze in the final round of the season next Wednesday evening.
A top-two finish remains a real possibility for the Hawks’ Division 1 team, after an impressive 10-goal win against Express.
Locked on 12 wins apiece heading into the clash, and only half a game behind second-placed Geelong Cougars, there was more than just four points on the line for the two sides.
And with the Hawks copping a 22-goal hiding when the teams last played in Round 9, a much-improved performance was required.
But while in Round 9 the Hawks were on the back foot from the opening whistle, this time around a clinical start set up what would become a match-winning lead.
The Hawks were in front 20-12 at quarter-time before extending their lead to nine goals at half-time with a 14-goal second term.
Express rallied in the second half, closing within four goals on multiple occasions, but the Hawks, led by a standout performance from goal keeper Sally Deller and a more consistent game in the attacking end, found a way to keep them at arm’s length each time.
Deller praised the team’s even spread of contributions in the 63-53 win, which could see the Hawks in second spot if ladder leaders North East Blaze defeat second-placed Geelong Cougars on Saturday evening.
“I think we played a strong whole-court defensive game,” Deller said.
“It felt really positive down both ends, the shooting combinations were really clicking and Daisy’s (Daisy Hill – 46 goals) shooting was unreal.”
Deller said the win had the team confident heading into the business end of the season.
“I think we’re playing some really good netball and putting ourselves in contention for a very strong finals run.”
The Hawks take on North East Blaze in a must-watch clash in Round 18 next week.
The Hawks saved their best until the last quarter, but it wasn’t quite enough to get past Express in the 19/Under division.
Left with nine goals to make up at three-quarter time, the Hawks poured in 18 goals in the final quarter to close to within five, but could get no closer as Express steadied to secure a 59-54 win.
Earlier, the scores were tied at 14-14 at quarter-time after the Hawks recovered from a 2-8 start to score 12 of the next 18 goals.
Boroondara began to get on top at both ends in the second quarter, opening up a five-goal lead by half-time, and then extending it by four to lead 45-36 with a quarter remaining.
A lift in defensive pressure saw the Hawks make early inroads into the deficit, but a couple of errant passes allowed Express to extinguish the challenge.
Still sitting in sixth position with one round remaining, the Hawks will be looking to finish their season with a bang against the ninth-placed Blaze on Wednesday.