Cougars and Falcons to battle for VNL GF spot

FINALS have arrived in the Victorian Netball League (VNL) Championship division, as four teams are left in the race for the 2022 title. Two matches take place tonight, with the Geelong Cougars and City West Falcons playing off for a spot in the grand final, while there is no turning back for third and fourth placed Melbourne University Lightning and North East Blaze respectively.

Major Semi-Final – Geelong Cougars vs City West Falcons

Two of the teams that have been the teams to beat all season will clash for the right to head straight through to the VNL Grand Final.

Geelong has been the side to beat all year, suffering only the one loss all season, which was to Melbourne Uni back in Round 5.

City West on the other hand lost three of its first four games of the season, but really recovered to then win eight in a row; the streak only ending with a loss to the Cougars.

Speaking of that clash, that was the second of two matches between the two sides this season. With the Cougars emerging victorious on both occasions, history is certainly on their side heading into tonight’s clash.

One big advantage the Falcons have is Jane Cook, who is not only an excellent goal shooter but is significantly taller than any opposition defence. However, now that the Oceania World Cup qualifiers are over she may have to fight for her spot in the starting seven as Uneeq Palavi should be able to return to the side.

Up the other end, Zanna Woods and Julia Woolley have been a really strong and consistent pair all season and will be looking to continue that tonight. Even if Wooley is not back, Daisy O’Kane has proven she is more than capable to stepping up and filling the hole.

So overall, expect an entertaining battle tonight between the arguably two best sides all season.

Minor Semi-Final – Melbourne University Lightning vs North East Blaze

The minor semi final sees the do or die clash between Melbourne University and North East Blaze. Both sides have had inconsistent seasons at times, but when they are up and about they can really put the foot down.

The Lightning had a really good start to the season, winning five of their first six games. Among those five wins was inflicting Geelong’s sole loss for the season back in round five. Meanwhile for the Blaze, they did not have quite as good start to the season but really hit their stride towards the middle of the season.

Most of the losses both sides suffered this year have come against their fellow finalists, so that does not bode well for the next few weeks. In the head-to-heads, these two sides have met twice this season for very different results. Back in Round 8 it was a 19-goal win to the Blaze, but only five weeks ago the Lightning were able to flip the script and win by two goals.

Since that second clash both sides have had very different runs of form, so it will be interesting to see who comes out on top tonight. Melbourne Uni have lost twice in that time frame while the Blaze have gone undefeated.

The battle in both shooting circles is going to be an entertaining one in this clash.

Up one end there is Nyah Allen and Georgia Moody up against the Lightning defensive trio of Romayer Gourley, Gabby Coffey and Maggie Caris.

Up the other end Mikaela Vaughan and Claudia Mawson will go toe to toe with Kaitlyn Black, Sienna Allen and Tayissa Coppinger.

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