A CRUCIAL mid-table clash between Ariels and St Therese headlines Round 7 of the 2022/23 M-League Premier Men’s season, while Premier Mixed big improvers Altona Falcons test themselves against the undefeated Parkville Panthers. Here are all the big matches taking place tonight at the State Netball and Hockey Centre.
PREMIER MEN’S LEAGUE:
Round 7: (At 9:40pm)
Netblacks vs. Boroondara Thunder – Court 1
St Therese vs. Ariels – Court 2
Darebin Dragons vs. City Heat – Court 4
Bye: Altona Falcons
Looking at the Premier Men’s grade, the most eye-catching match is that of Ariels and St Therese, with the sides currently ranked fourth and fifth respectively. Though Ariels do hold the upper hand over the reigning premiers, St Therese is quietly building some form and regaining some stars ahead of a big second half of the season. Sitting just one win off the Ariels from the finals spots, St Therese can leapfrog its opponent with a victory.
St Therese has a dangerous lineup, headlined by a number of international talents. If Riley Richardson can play and therefore take control in the centre, he has the likes of Jayden Cowling sharing the load, and the dominant shooting duo of Connor Lilly and Tom Hardwick in the circle. In defence, Ronan Pring and Jake Hederics can nullify any opposition shooting partnership, making the side devoid of weak links and capable of putting on a high score quickly through intercepts and fast transition.
Ariels do not quite have the same experience but do have some headache-inducing players for opponents. Dan King and Dan Stone will have quite the tough matchups on Lilly and Hardwick, while Brendan Nick can be a rotation option at either end. Josh Clavarino has been consistent this season, with Matthew Blomeley one who could have a huge job in the midcourt alongside Billy Mahoney.
In other matches, the rising Netblacks can take full advantage of Altona Falcons having the week off, taking on sixth placed Boroondara Thunder. The Thunder have only chalked up the one win thus far in season 2022/23, but would be keen to stay in finals contention. Netblacks can move level with the Falcons with a 4-2 win-loss record if they can get up. Meanwhile ladder leaders City Heat will be heavy favourites against the winless Darebin Dragons, with the title contenders looking to stretch their unbeaten run to six games.
PREMIER MIXED LEAGUE:
Round 7: (At 7pm)
NNE Vipers vs. Geelong – Court 3
Altona Falcons vs. Parkville Panthers – Court 4
LTU vs. Ariels – Court 8
Melbourne Quakes vs. Valley Wolves – Court 9
Bye: Eastside Sonics
A top three clash between unbeaten Parkville Panthers and third placed Altona Falcons looms as the one to watch in the Premier Mixed division. Out on Court 4, the reigning runners-up will be looking to go one better in season 2022/23, while the Falcons have been a terrific surprise packet this season, sitting just one win off the pace and ready to pounce. The big tests will come for the Falcons in the next fortnight though, taking on the Panthers, and then reigning champions Geelong to see where they measure up to the yardstick.
Altona does have some big names in the side, with Dee Patu making his long-awaited debut in Falcons colours last week, and could have a massive international-quality centre battle with Richardson. Alongside Patu, Montana Holmes and Maddison McKiernan have been in some terrific form, while Andrew Lewis and Josh Smith are capable to making an impact up both ends.
Parkville has a lot of the same players as the Men’s Premier side St Therese, with the likes of Richardson, Lily, Cowling and Hederics all able to lineup for the Mixed Premier Panthers side. Shooting options such as Suncorp Super Netball experienced talents in Kaylia Stanton and Sienna Allen makes the team so dangerous, while Georgette Paatsch and Casey Adamson provide high-level talent, and Amy Starzer can put up plenty of goals.
In the other matches, fellow contender Geelong faces off against sixth placed NNE Vipers on the next court, with the other two matches out on Courts 8 and 9. LTU will be looking to bounce back with a win over the seventh placed Ariels who have hit a form slump after back-to-back wins at the start of the season, while Valley Wolves and Melbourne Quakes have both impressed over the past few weeks and will be looking to continue that momentum in their head-to-head.
In the 17 and Under matches, the much improved Peninsula Waves will take on St Therese coming off its first loss of the season last week, while Darebin will test its luck against WDNA. Both matches are at 7pm on Court 11 and 10 respectively. On the main courts at the same time, the blockbuster clash between WDNA and St Therese lock horns at 14 and Under level, while on the next court, Melbourne Up & Comers face off against TBC again.