Hawks Netball will rekindle an old rivalry in next week’s Victorian Netball League Division 1 grand final, with Geelong booking its spot to play the Hawks in the season decider.
Facing off on Wednesday evening, it will be the first time the two sides have met in the post-season since their grand final thriller in 2018, which saw the Hawks hang on to win by one goal.
Both teams have had very different roads to this year’s big game, with the Hawks finishing second on the ladder before securing a breakthrough victory against undefeated minor premiers North East Blaze in the major semi-final.
Meanwhile Geelong secured their finals berth at the latest possible moment, jumping from fifth to fourth position when the Hawks defeated fourth-placed Peninsula Waves in the last game of the season.
Geelong then beat third-placed City West Falcons in the minor semi-final and scored an upset win over North East Blaze in the preliminary final.
The grand final shapes as another classic contest, with the teams splitting the points in their two meetings this year.
Geelong struck first with a one-goal win in the opening round of the season, but the Hawks hit back in Round 11, with a strong last quarter seeing them grab a 51-48 win.
Hawks coach AJ Ballantyne said the grand final promised to be a tight one.
“Geelong are a quality side who’ve hit form at the right end of the season, and we’ve had two really close games with them this year,” he said.
“They’ve got strength in every position and our girls know you just can’t afford to have a bad quarter against them.”
Ballantyne said it was exciting to have an almost full strength Hawks squad available, after a season impacted by injuries and illness.
“In Round 1 against Geelong we were missing our captain Kate Fletcher and then lost our starting centre Caity Alifraco for the season within the first 20 minutes. I think a few times that day we had goalers playing in the midcourt to fill gaps. We were missing players in Round 11 as well. It’s just been one of those seasons.”
“(Goal shooter) Dom Taylor returns to the lineup this week after missing the semi-final with Covid, which is really exciting for her and great for us to have all of our options,” he said.
“We’ve had an incredible season and the Hawks players just keep stepping up to whatever challenge is put in front of them. I’m confident they’re ready to bring their best on Wednesday.”
The VNL Division 1 grand final will be played on Court 11 at the State Netball Hockey Centre at 6.50pm on Wednesday, August 10.
Entry $5 adults, $2 concession/U18