Netblacks win M-League grand final rematch

NETBLACKS have strung consecutive wins together in the Premier Men’s M-League competition, defeating St Therese by 10 goals in a fast-paced grand final rematch. On the same court where St Therese lifted the trophy aloft earlier this year, it would the be the Netblacks who saluted in the Round 1 match, streaking away in the final term to record a 68-58 win.

Though it was hoped both teams might have been at full strength, the highly anticipated centre battle between Deepak Patu and Riley Richardson did not eventuate with Patu missing, and Richardson playing only a quarter – in wing attack. Jayden Cowling also missed for St Therese, which affected the attacking movement of the side

Harrison Lefebure played a full game in centre and Guy Keane stepped in for the other three quarters in wing attack, but ultimately, the defensive strength of Jake Schuster – pushing up the court and intercepting as well as working back close to the defensive post – was too much. Nathan Selvidge – who came on after quarter time – provided a spark in wing defence after they trailed by a goal at the first break.

It would be the only break where St Therese would lead, as a 17-13 second term saw the Netblacks regain a three-goal buffer. Naturally Junior Levi was putting up anything that came his way, with 26 first half goals, while Kai Suzuki-McGauran had mountains of free space when the Netblacks were on the attack and Levi was at the post. Unsurprisingly, both Ronan Pring and Jake Hederics looks to press back on Levi and create a double-team, but the Netblacks still found a way to get it to him.

At the other end, the tried and true combination of Connor Lilly and Tom Hardwick was more of a shared scoring load, with their tallies 17 and 11 respectively at half-time. The third term was fairly even, but Netblacks increased the lead by one to hold a handy four-goal buffer, 49-45, at the last break. Keane returned to the court replacing Richardson again for the final term, while the Netblacks remained steady. Ryan Lovell‘s move into goal keeper at half-time – replacing Asalele Alefaio – was the only major one of note.

With sweet revenge and victory in sight, the Netblacks put the foot down in the final term, with Levi piling on 17 of his team’s 19 goals for the quarter, while the defence managed to reduce St Therese down to 12 goals for the quarter. In the end, the buzzer sounded with the Netblacks getting up by double-digits, 68-58.

Schuster was a clear standout on the night, doing his best against a high-powered attack, while Levi finished with 58 of his side’s 68 goals, equalling the opposition side. Hardwick put up 26 goals playing at goal attack, while up the other end, Pring was again a consistent contributor. The win was important for the Netblacks who balanced their season ledger, while St Therese will be looking ahead to grabbing some easier wins prior to Christmas after a tough draw to start the season with important players missing.

On the next court, the undefeated City Heat overcame a plucky first term from Boroondara Thunder, to record an easy 28-goal win in the end. Onlookers were a little shocked when the bottom two placed Thunder headed into the second quarter with an 11-9 lead off the back of a 10-goal first term from Ethan Spiteri.

That would turn out to be a false dawn, with City Heat regaining control in the second term, dominating the quarter 16-5 and then keeping Boroondara to just nine goals in the second half, while adding 28 themselves. Josh Byron and Alastair Punshon were outstanding in defence, while Cameron Allum put up 29 goals in three quarters.

In the other match, Altona Falcons took care of Darebin Dragons with an 18-goal win over on Court 4. The Falcons moved up to second with the win, after being challenged during the third term. It seemed the 13-goal half-time buffer would be comfortable enough for the Falcons, but the Dragons roared to life in the third term with 14 goals to seven and drew within six goals at the last change.

Altona steadied with a massive 19 goals to seven term, and recorded a 57-39 victory. Zac Mabilia was best-on for his work in the midcourt for Altona, while Andrew Burgess stood tall in goalkeeper for three quarters, and Luke Marko Rawlings played at both ends, shooting 25 goals. Joshua Keppel was important for Darebin in the defensive goal circle.

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