Hawks Netball will attempt to do what no Victorian Netball League Division 1 team has managed all season when they take to the court in their semi-final on Wednesday night: beat North East Blaze.
The Hawks will go in as underdogs against the experienced Blaze outfit, who went through the regular season undefeated.
But the Hawks will also take confidence from the fact they were closer to knocking off the ladder leaders than any other team during the 18 regular rounds.
In Round 6 the Hawks led at every quarter break before being overrun in the final quarter, going down by a single goal, 43-44.
And when the teams met again in Round 16, a slow start cost the Hawks as they faced 10-goal deficit at half-time before closing within a few goals in the final quarter, ultimately coming up seven goals short, 46-53.
Hawks coach AJ Ballantyne said the semi-final was a challenge the Hawks were ready for.
“Blaze are very experienced as a group, with much of their lineup having played together in their 2019 premiership, so they just have that understanding and consistency that comes with having spent a lot of time on court together,” he said.
“We’re a lot newer, with only a three or four of our players having played together prior to this year, but with that comes the potential for huge growth and development throughout a season, which we’ve definitely seen from the group this year.”
“The players have learnt a lot from those other performances and it’s exciting to have been so close while knowing we didn’t play our best netball.”
“They’re always hard-fought, physical games against Blaze and their defensive pressure is huge, so it’s a matter of staying focused and on-task for the entire 60 minutes. If we can do that, we’ve got every chance of getting the win.”
The Hawks take on North East Blaze on Court 11 at the State Netball Centre from 7pm on Wednesday, July 27.
Tickets at the door – $5 adults, $2 concession