AS the old saying goes, time flies when you are having fun, and in the blink of an eye it has already reached the halfway mark of the 2023 Victorian Netball League (VNL) season.
It is also Pride Round in the VNL tonight, and on International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT) it is a round with more importance than ever before in light of what is happening in many parts of the world at the moment.
It is also back to regular scheduling this week, with all 10 teams set to play at the State Netball Centre tonight. Tonight’s fixture has a real mixture, and with the ladder very tight even one upset could really shake things up.
The match of the round is the second placed Boroondara Express taking on the fourth placed North East Blaze. With percentage the only thing separating the Express from first on the ladder and the Blaze only two games behind them on the ladder, it is a crucial game for both sides.
Another team who will be keen to bank the win and bridge the gap is the Southern Saints, who face the Peninsula Waves tonight. The Saints are a further game behind the Blaze on the ladder, and will be looking to bank a big win to cushion any potential damage to their ladder position when they face the top teams in the back half of the season.
The Hawks are in a very similar position to the Saints ladder wise, but have a tougher task this week as they have to take on Geelong Cougars. The Cougars meanwhile will be keen to maintain their position in the top three, but with a significantly worse percentage than the teams above them will be looking to bank a big win against the sixth placed Hawks to make their lives just that little bit easier later.
In a similar position to the Saints but in a different way are the City West Falcons. They face the Casey Demons tonight, who despite getting the win last weekend, still find themselves comfortably in eighth position. With that in mind, City West will head into tonight’s clash keen to not only bank the win, but do so comfortably to keep that percentage barrier and give itself some cushioning if things go wrong against the top sides later in the season.
The final match of the night – and the only one unconcerned with the fight for top four – is the Ariels taking on Melbourne University Lightning.
Both these sides are coming off heavy losses last week, and will pencil this game in as an opportunity to not only get a much needed win on the board, but to use to build some confidence to propel forward from into the back half of the season.
Victorian Netball League Round 9 Fixture
Peninsula Waves vs Wilson Storage Southern Saints
Hawks Netball vs Geelong Cougars
Ariels vs Melbourne University Lightning
Casey Demons vs City West Falcons
North East Blaze vs Boroondara Express