Saints and Falcons look to keep touch with top two
CITY West Falcons and Southern Saints will face off in a massive top four battle tonight in Round 14 of the Victorian Netball League (VNL) Championship Division. The third placed Falcons are just two points off Melbourne University Lightning and could leapfrog them if the Lightning lose, while the Saints are already six points behind the Falcons and need a win to keep any hope of a top two finish alive.
Both sides have incredible youth, as shown by the success in the Under 19s Division by these teams – Saints ranked first and Falcons seconds – with the teams across both clubs enjoying good 2022 seasons. The top three looked pretty set heading into last week, but the Falcons’ 15-goal loss to Geelong Cougars, and the Saints’ eight-goal win over Ariels, closed the gap on third spot.
City West Falcons have enjoyed a remarkable revival this season, starting the year at 1-3, they strung together a massive eight games on the trot before being halted by the Cougars in Round 13. That winning run included a 21-goal thrashing of the Southern Saints back in Round 6 just as the title contender was getting going,.
The one to watch from the Falcons is Zoe Davies, who won netball fans over with her performances for Collingwood in the Suncorp Super Netball. Along with Davies, the Falcons have shooting machine Jane Cook up with the other end, and rising talent Melissa Oloamanu who has impressed at VNL level this season. They will go up against a young Saints side that has plenty of potential.
Southern Saints have had an up and down season, which is unsurprising considering the age profile and high-volume of new recruits at the club. The Saints drew with Ariels in the opening round, a result they would undoubtedly like to have again. They strung back-to-back wins against Peninsula Waves and the Lightning in Round 2-3, before dropping their first points in Round 4 against Casey Demons.
Their loss to the Falcons was the start of a three-game losing streak, before bouncing back against North East Blaze in Round 9. That too started a three-game winning streak – and four of the next five – with only a loss to Boroondara Express in Round 12 stopping the Saints heading in here with five wins on the trot.
The likes of Emily Andrew and Tegan Stephenson have been really impressive this season, with Mia Sudarminski and Tadiwa Kahonde among those players who can come on and have an impact. The Saints have not quite been able to get over many over the contenders – bar Lightning early – so a win against the experienced Falcons would e a great confidence booster for the talented Saints.
Another potential Round 14 blockbuster could be the second placed Lightning up against the fifth placed North East Blaze, especially with the Magpies’ SSN season coming to an end. Seventh placed Casey Demons have a crack at the top of the table Geelong Cougars, with Boroondara Express taking on ninth placed Peninsula Waves. At the other end of the ladder, Ariels will search for their first win against Hawks Netball who sit in eighth spot.
VNL CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND 14 FIXTURE
Southern Saints vs. City West Falcons
Melbourne University Lightning vs. North East Blaze
Hawks Netball vs. Ariels
Casey Demons vs. Geelong Cougars
Peninsula Waves vs. Boroondara Express