St Therese too strong for shuffled Netblacks
THE second grand final rematch of the 2022/23 M-League Premier Men’s season turned out to be a fizzer as reigning champions St Therese destroyed Netblacks to the tune of 44 goals. The Netblacks chose the match to shuffle the magnets around on the court, with high-volume shooter Junior Levi starting in goal keeper, with defender Jake Schuster in goal attack and star centre Deepak Patu on the bench. Needless to say the first half was a disaster for the Netblacks, and set up the massive 67-23 victory.
While the Netblacks opted to shuffle the magnets, St Therese – still missing Ronan Pring – did no such thing, determined to win against arguably its biggest threat for the title. Tom Hardwick had a huge first quarter, putting up eight goals as he and Connor Lilly lead St Therese to an 11-6 start. In defence, Jake Hederics was enjoying taking on a far smaller shooter in Brandon D’Monte, and then Ryan Lovell in the second term.
Schuster moved into centre for the second quarter, with Patu coming on at wing defence, then going to goal attack for the third term. A 21 goals to one second term all but sealed the result, as the reigning premiers headed into the main break 32-7 up. Tim Walker came on for the second half as he did last week, while Riley Richardson also returned to the court. A number of players earned a quarter’s break in the second half, but the lead continued to grow to a 44-13 score at the last change.
In the final term, Levi returned to his goal shooter position after playing in both defensive roles and wing attack, shooting eight goals, while Schuster joined him in the shooting circle. Though still comprehensively outscored 23-10, the Netblacks had a much more reliable avenue to score. The final result read 67-23, though the magnet shuffling ahead of finals meant the result may not be indicative of what could happen in the post-season series.
Hardwick was voted best-on for St Therese thanks to his 24 goals, with Walker (22) and Lilly (21) all heading home with big numbers. Classy midcourt duo in Richardson and Jarrod Cowling were unsurprisingly strong, as they kept the team on the task at hand and provided them with a big win. The result means St Therese will certainly finish second, while Netblacks will temporarily drop to fourth with Altona Falcons – who grabbed third – their opponents in the last round. Interestingly, Netblacks could prefer to take on minor premiers City Heat in the semi-finals, having claimed a win there, and not have to face St Therese again until the decider.
AROUND THE COURTS
Altona Falcons made light work of the winless Darebin Draagons, storming to a 43-goal victory. Lead by Australian goal attack Brodie Roberts who outscored the Dragons by himself, the Falcons produced a huge statement to set themselves up for finals. In what looked like being a record score for the season, the Falcons notched up 50 goals by half-time and lead by 34. They won each of the four quarters, but the Dragons were far more competitive in the last term, scoring 13-15 and reducing the Falcons to 31 goals in the second half for a 81-38 result.
Roberts finished the match with a massive 54 goals, as he teamed up well with Andrew Lewis (22), while Jake Dambrauskas came in and shot a goal in the final term after playing in defence for the first three quarters. Despite the heavy loss, Joshua Fell tried hard in centre for Darebin.
In the 8:20pm standalone Premier Men’s match, top of the table City Heat survived a scare from Boroondara Thunder to avoid suffering their third consecutive loss. The Heat got up by just two goals as a fast-finishing Thunder side almost caught them. Leading by six goals at the final break, the Heat could only manage the eight goals in the final term, as the Thunder added 12 to cut the final margin to two, 54-52.
David Chisholm put up an impressive 30 goals despite being on the losing side, with Alastair Punshon having a great battle with him. Brayden Pastore also shot 22 goals, while Terron King performed strongly in defence. For the winners, Josh Byron managed a game-high 41 goals, while Jake Noonan worked tirelessly in centre and then wing defence.