Falcons fly high over Saints in VNL win

CITY West Falcons have proven too strong for Southern Saints, winning the first three quarters of their Victorian Netball League (VNL) contest on Wednesday night to secure the eight-goal victory. The Saints were competitive throughout the first half and kept fighting back into the contest, but a 20-12 third term in favour of the third placed Falcons blew open the game. City West rested star shooter Jane Cook in the final quarter, as the Saints managed to cut the deficit back to as little as six, but could not do enough as the Falcons reigned supreme, 68-60.

SOUTHERN SAINTS 14 | 16 | 12 | 18 (60)
CITY WEST FALCONS 16 | 18 | 20 | 14 (68)

In what shaped as a crucial top four contest, the Falcons raced out of the blocks to score the first four goals, as Cook was firing on all cylinders in the circle. The passing into her from Collingwood’s Maggie Lind and Montana Holmes was proving a problem for the Saints defence, though Caitlin Cooke was getting on top of her opposing player in Uneeq Palavi. After trailing 2-7, the Saints piled on six consecutive goals midway though the term, with Leah Percy feeding the ball well into the circle, and Mia Sudamirski and Annabelle Gorman starting to find some rhythm. The head-to-head battle between Saints wing attack Rylee Nelson, and Falcons wing defence Soli Ropati was a fascinating one, though the Falcons eventually got back on top with the last three goals of the quarter to take a 16-14 lead at the first break.

City West opted to switch goal attacks with co-captain Madelyn Gray coming on for Palavi and immediately had an impact with a quick presentation out of the circle and bullet pass into Cook who scored. It was goal-for-goal for the most part, and largely dictated by the Cook(e)s, with Falcons’ shooter Cook continually putting the ball to post, whilst Saints defender Cooke was clever in reading the passes and duly intercepting. Midway through the quarter, the Falcons brought on Lucia Fauonuku into goal defence and pushed Zoe Davies into goal keeper. Fauonuku was able to really turn the game for the Falcons up the defensive end, and nullify any impact Sudamirski or Gorman was having, pushing it out to a five-goal lead before eventually ending the half at four, 34-30.

After having just a 20-second breather and the half-time break, Ashlee Barnett returned to the Saints’ goalkeeper position, but could not seemingly stop the power of Cook. In many ways, the Saints defence of Barnett and inclusion of young gun Tegan Stephenson did well under the circumstances, reading the ball well and applying pressure where possible. Missed feeds in the second phase and chances on goal gone begging cost the Saints, as Cook and Palavi – who replaced Gray midway through the third term – were making the most of their opportunities. The Falcons put the foot down in the third term, racing out to as much as a 13-goal lead at one stage, before the eventual score at three quarter time read 54-42.

After earning a break in the third term, Cooke returned for Stephenson, and the Falcons – holding a handy lead – opted to rest Cook in favour of the Palavi and Gray combination in goal shooter and goal attack respectively. It did mean the Falcons had to use a Plan B without the easy high ball into the towering Cook, but still managed to find their way through to the goal circle. Barnett had a monster final term with a number of big intercepts, as she and Cooke had played incredibly well despite the scoreline. In the last few minutes, the Saints had halved the final break deficit to just six, before eventually time ran out and a last second goal to Palavi made the final score 68-60.

In other results, the top of the table Geelong Cougars proved too good for Casey Demons, running out 18-goal winners, whilst it was far tighter between Melbourne University Lightning and North East Blaze, with the former securing a two-goal victory. In the other match, Hawks Netball easily took care of the winless Ariels by 16 goals, whilst the last contest of the weekend will take place on Sunday night between Peninsula Waves and Boroondara Express.


Melbourne University Lightning (57) defeated North East Blaze (55)
Hawks Netball (56) defeated Ariels (40)
Casey Demons (50) defeated by Geelong Cougars (68)
Southern Saints (60) defeated by City West Falcons (68)

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments