Hawk’s Netball’s Championship division team is closing in on the top four after a breakthrough win against City West Falcons in Round 4 of the Victorian Netball League.
Having gone winless against Falcons in VNL’s top division for as long as most at the club can remember, the Hawks came into the 6th versus 7th clash as underdogs but with a dash of confidence after securing their first win of the season the previous week.
And it was a thrilling finish as the sides traded goals in the final term before the Hawks inched ahead to record a memorable 55-53 win.
No more than a handful of goals separated the teams throughout the entire contest as the Hawks grabbed an early lead, with their full court defensive pressure providing good opportunities for goal keeper Clare Johnson, who quelled the influence of towering Falcons shooter Jane Cook.
A Falcons goaling change-up saw them work their way back into the contest and take the lead in the second half, but the Hawks hung tough and clung to a 42-40 lead at the final change.
The Hawks were again challenged throughout the final term, with the scores tied late, but a composed and mature performance from wing attack Lorna Clark – who secured the umpires’ three votes – continued to supply Hawks goalers Kaylia Stanton (40 goals from 46 attempts) and Tayla Shannon (15 from 19) with plenty of opportunities. Thirteen final-quarter goals were enough to claim a two-goal win.
Coach Jacqui Hansen said it had been years since the Hawks had enjoyed success against Falcons in the top division of the Victorian Netball League.
“It might have been 2017 when we last beat Falcons, or it could have been even longer. Let’s just say it’s been a while, although we did get very close last season,” Hansen said.
“Against a team with a number of current and former Super Netball players and training partners, this one was a great performance by our girls, who are growing together week by week.”
“Round 1 against Geelong was a bit of a learning curve, but since then we’ve really knuckled down and ground out three full 60-minute efforts, and the results speak for themselves, with two wins and a very tight loss.”
The win sees Hawks close within half a game of fourth-placed Southern Saints, with the teams set to face off in Round 5 this Wednesday night at Oakleigh Recreation Centre.
A dominant first half against City West Falcons was enough for Hawks Netball’s Division 1 team to collect a third win in a row and move into the top four.
Having won their previous two games by close margins, the Hawks stamped their authority on the Round 4 game early, grabbing a 15-9 lead at quarter-time before holding Falcons to just six goals in the second quarter as defenders Chloe Duke and Sally Deller took control, while at the other end goal shooter Dom Taylor (33 goals from 35 attempts) was proving a handful.
The Hawks led 29-15 at half-time, and with Abi Inglis and Ash Newham controlling the game through the midcourt, maintained the 14-goal margin for the remainder of the game, running out 52-38 winners.
Coach AJ Ballantyne said the win was another stepping stone for the team.
“We’re a very new team with a lot of new combinations out there. We had three first-year Division 1 players in the starting seven this week, so to have three wins and a one-goal loss at this stage of the season is a great effort by the players,” he said.
“The last two weeks have seen a huge improvement and that next level of connection as the girls become more comfortable with each other, so we’re really excited for what the rest of the season might hold.”
The third-placed Hawks take on the fifth-placed Southern Saints on Wednesday evening.
The Hawks’ 19/Under team’s unbeaten start to the season has come to an end with the tightest of losses against City West Falcons.
The Hawks led by two at half-time but the Falcons’ defensive pressure began to tell in the third quarter, keeping them to just eight goals and tying the scores at three-quarter time.
From there the Falcons kicked clear to win 41-39, despite a strong defensive performance from goal keeper Eliza Molino and consistent shooting from goal attack Keeley Burgmann (29 goals from 35 attempts).
The Hawks take on Southern Saints this Wednesday, May 14 at Oakleigh Recreation Centre:
7.15pm – Division 1 & 19/Under
8.45pm – Championship