2023 VNL | Round 14 preview: Potentially season-defining fixtures

IT is once again time for Victorian Netball League action, and as the season races towards its final month of action, things are as tight and surprising as they ever have been.

Also, with only two of the 10 teams officially out of contention for finals there is still so much to play for this season.

One of the expected to be more lopsided encounters this week is the Cougars taking on the Ariels tonight. On one side there is the third placed Cougars currently close to cementing their place in the top four, battling the last placed Ariels. Last time these two sides met it was also a big win to the Cougars.

One team that are also close to cementing their place in the finals is the Express, who take on the Hawks tonight.

If the Express keep on their winning momentum, depending on other results one more win or two may be all they need to secure their place in the finals. They take on a side tonight in the Hawks who are in a bit of a slump at the moment, and teetering on the edge of still being in finals contention so will certainly be fighting hard for the win tonight.

Last time these two sides met though it was a big win to the Express.

A couple of sides in very different precarious positions on the ladder also battle it out tonight, with the Blaze set to take on the Lightning.

The Blaze currently sits in fourth, evenly sitting two wins behind those above them but also two wins ahead of their closest chasers. They take on the Lightning who are among the group of the Blaze’s closest chasers, but cannot afford many more losses if they want to remain in finals contention.

The Lightning were also victorious the last time these two sides met, so this match could go either way tonight.

Speaking of precariously placed on the ladder, tonight’s last match between the Saints and Dees has similar connotations for both sides.

The Saints are in a similar position to the Hawks and Lightning on the ladder, while this week is really a do or die one for the Dees if they want to play finals in 2023, so it is safe to say tonight’s clash really is a must win for both sides.

Last time these two sides met it was a four goal win to the Saints, so time will tell whether tonight’s clash is as close.

The final clash of the round is actually on Sunday, with the Waves set to host the Falcons.

The Waves finally got a win on the board last week, but that was against the last-placed Ariels and they now have a vastly tougher challenge this week in the ladder-leading Falcons. City West for its part is almost the first team to have secured its spot in the finals for 2023, with one more win likely enough for last year’s champions.

VNL Round 14 Fixture

Geelong Cougars vs Ariels – Wednesday

Boroondara Express vs Hawks Netball – Wednesday

North East Blaze vs Melbourne University Lightning – Wednesday

Southern Saints vs Casey Demons – Wednesday

Peninsula Waves vs City West Falcons – Sunday

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