So it all comes down to this.
After 89 games in the Victorian Netball League’s 19/Under division, the finals picture will not be complete until the very last game of the season, as Hawks Netball takes on Peninsula Waves.
With the fifth-placed Hawks and third-placed Waves separated by just one win and a tiny percentage, the winner is all but assured of finishing in the top four, while a Hawks loss would see them miss out.
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A Waves loss would leave them needing North East Blaze (6th) to defeat Southern Saints (4th) in order to cling onto their finals spot.
After the 2021 season was cancelled 10 rounds in, with the 19/Under Hawks sitting in the top two, a victory on Wednesday evening at the State Netball Hockey Centre would see the team play its first finals game since lifting the premiership cup in 2014.
And if history is any guide, the Hawks-Waves contest could go either way, with the two teams playing out a thriller when they met in Round 9.
After a slow start to the game, the Hawks scored 15 goals to eight in the third term to tie proceedings at 41-41. But Waves found another gear in the final quarter, scoring 17 goals to run out 58-52 winners.
Hawks 19/Under coach Sophie O’Shea said the team is up for the challenge.
“It’s so exciting for the team to be in this position after 17 very hard-fought rounds,” O’Shea said.
“As with most games this season, the result is very much in our hands. Our best netball has seen us beat the teams in first and second place during the second half of the season, so we know we can do it.”
After a number of weeks impacted by both injury and absences, the Hawks will be at almost full strength for the clash, and they come into Round 18 fresh off a strong win against Casey Demons last week.
Hawks Netball’s Division 1 team will finally be able to lock in its top two position on Wednesday night if it can beat Peninsula Waves.
Having sat in the top two for the last month but with City West Falcons lurking in third position on the same number of wins, a Hawks victory in Round 18 would finally seal second spot and a double chance in finals.
But first the team will have to overcome Waves, who have their own position to fight for, entering the final round of the season in fourth position but only half a game ahead of Geelong Cougars.
The Hawks produced one of their best performances of the season when the teams faced off in Round 9, piling on 21 goals in the first quarter to open up a 13-goal lead before running out 68-44 winners.
A ladder position as high as fifth is on offer for Hawks Netball’s Championship division team, as it looks to close out the 2022 season on a high.
Currently sitting in eighth spot but just half a game off fifth, and with the three teams above them all playing against top four sides in the final round, leapfrogging to fifth is a very real possibility as the Hawks take on ninth-placed Peninsula Waves.
VNL ROUND 18 – Hawks vs Peninsula Waves
7pm – Championship
8.20pm – Division 1
9.40pm – 19/Under *** LIVE STREAM ***