Hawks Netball’s Division 1 team has vaulted to second spot on the ladder after a fourth consecutive win in the Victorian Netball League.
The Hawks defeated Southern Saints 54-39 in Round 5, extending the team’s strong run of form, with its only loss a one-goal thriller against Geelong Cougars in Round 1.
The teams went goal for goal early in the game, with the Hawks edging clear midway through the quarter and then bursting ahead with a seven-goal flurry late in the term to take a 15-8 lead into quarter-time.
They added a further 15 goals in the second quarter, with Saints scoring 13 of their own to trail 30-21 at the long break.
The Hawks continued to extend their lead in the third quarter with further 13 goals to Saints’ 10, with 19/Under Hawks Next Generation training partner Lilly Crofts taking the court for her first taste of Division 1 netball.
Goal shooter Dom Taylor, who netted an impressive 40 goals from 50 attempts against her former club, after crossing to the Hawks in the off-season, credited the Hawks’ hard-working defence end with setting up the win.
“It was a very tight and physical game this week with lots of challenging one on one defence. Chloe (Duke) and Sasha (Witts) worked really well together down the defence end to make it difficult for the Saints to get the ball to their goalers,” she said.
“As an attack end we had to work through stopping the Saints defenders hunting the ball, as a few times they got clean intercepts outside the circle, putting pressure on our defence to turn the ball back over.”
Taylor said she was enjoying her netball, which had helped her take another step in her development in her first year out of the 19/Under division.
“I’m really loving it at Hawks. It is very supportive environment where the coaches and players all work together to bring the best out in everyone, and it translates on court really well,” she said.
“There is really clear communication between coaches and players as to what their expectations are, and this has really helped me learn a lot and be more confident in my game.”
Taylor said the Division 1 players, half of which are new to the team in 2022, are improving together with every game.
“Over the past few weeks the team has really gelled on court. There’s no set combinations as we all are easily able to play with each other, so when changes do happen, it’s seamless.”
“We’ve been working on our defensive transition at training, and the girls have been able to implement that on court extremely well, and has definitely allowed us to create scoring opportunities. We’re so lucky to have such a hard-working defence unit.”
The win sets up an exciting top-two showdown against the undefeated North East Blaze in Round 6 on Wednesday, April 27, after the teams enjoy a week off while the National Netball Championships are contested in Tasmania.
Hawks Netball’s Championship division team came up just short against Southern Saints, ending a two-game win streak and putting the Hawks in the logjam of teams in the middle of the VNL ladder.
Missing goal shooting target Kaylia Stanton, the Hawks took time to adjust against a Saints lineup that included Melbourne Vixen Rahni Samason and Vixens training partner Emily Andrew, and trailed by six goals at half-time.
The third quarter saw 19/Under goaler Keeley Burgmann brought on for her Championship debut, which sparked the Hawks and saw them briefly narrow the gap, before midcourter Lorna Clark was forced from the court after falling heavily in a contest for the bal.
The Saints then hit back to lead 38-31 at the final change.
The Hawks again came hard in the last quarter, closing to within four goals, but Saints steadied to run out 50-44 winners and collect the four points.
It was a tough night for Hawks Netball’s 19/Under team, who went down by 17 goals against Southern Saints.
With both teams impacted by court time restrictions on Victorian representative players, who were in final preparations for the National Championships, the Saints had the better of the contest from the outset, leading 15-10 at quarter-time.
The Hawks struggled to find an answer for Saints shooter Lia Seumanutafa in the second quarter as she poured in all 17 of her team’s goals, while the Hawks managed only 11 to see the margin grow to 11 goals.
The Hawks continued to try hard but couldn’t make inroads as the Saints closed out the game 63-46, pushing the Hawks outside the top four for the first time this season.