Monday, 27 May 2013

Round 12 Preview: MUC v City West Falcons

Monash University Central v City West Falcons
State Netball & Hockey Centre, Court 5
Championship (7pm); Division 1 (8.20pm); Under 19s (9.40pm)

Central's Lil O'Sullivan (right) wins possession against a
City West Falcons opponent. Photo: Michael Copp
There’s nothing quite like a good old fashion rivalry and the State Netball and Hockey Centre provides a great platform for two very proud clubs to do battle.

Both Central and Falcons have their squads up and about at the moment, particularly the Falcons, who have all three age groups in the top three of their respective competition.

Monash have two, meaning that two of these matches are sure to provide some mouth-watering netball that could very well shape the finals series as the second half of the season gets well and truly underway.

LADDER: Central 4th (7-4, 118.8%); Falcons 3rd (7-2-2, 113.4%)
FORM (LAST 5): Central LLWWW; Falcons WWDLW
LAST TIME THEY MET: Round 4 (March 27, 2013), State Netball & Hockey Centre; Central 41 def. by Falcons 46

The long-standing rivalry between Central and Falcons continues with Monash keen to get one back at their nemesis after the Round 4 clash went the way of City West.

Missed opportunities were one of the deciding factors in Central’s eventual defeat, shooting just 66% for the night, yet the recent form of goalers Stacey Northey, Stephanie Tyrell and Sarah Main should lay to rest a repeat performance.

Whilst Monash are gunning for their fourth win on the trot, the Falcons are in a mid-season stumble, with a win, a draw and a loss their last three results.

Yet with City West goalers Julia Knott and Maggie Lind on song in recent weeks leading the Falcons to key win over VU Western Lightning last weekw, MUC defenders Helen Barclay and Georgie Davenport will need to be at their defensive best.

Yet coach Leesa Maxfield told that her side’s focus was purely internal.

“For us it’s all about cutting down our error rate and full-court pressure,” Maxfield said.

“We didn’t take our opportunities and didn’t play anywhere near our capabilities last time around, but we got within five goals.

“Our defence ahs been scarily good and our goalers have form so there’s no reason why we can’t knock off another top-four team.”

LADDER: Central 3rd (7-1-3, 113.7%); Falcons 2nd (8--3, 120.1%)
FORM (LAST 5): Central LWWLW; Falcons LWWWW
LAST TIME THEY MET: Round 4 (March 27, 2013), State Netball & Hockey Centre;
Central 51 def. Falcons 44

The Monash Division 1 side is riding high on confidence after a ruthless comeback win over Yarra Valley Grammar Ariels last week, yet for the second week running, they face another top 2 prospect in City West Falcons.

Prolific shooting from Gabrielle Henderson and Shae Gee, coupled with the defensive intensity of Kate Slattery, Ebony Fietz and Melissa Wardle proved the difference in last week’s win.

Looking to turn around some indifferent form in the previous six weeks, Monash come up against the Falcons, who – like the Ariels the previous week – are chasing their fifth consecutive win.

It’s a statistic that Monash coach Jacqui Hansen is certainly familiar with and welcomes the challenge.

“It certainly doesn’t get any easier for us, but at the same time, it’s a really key stretch for us,” Hansen told

“It’ll be another physical game and we’ll look to take the positives from this game and try implement them against the Falcons.

“We had some tired girls at the end of last week, but we’ll be ready to go for this one.”

LADDER: Central 8th (3-8, 88.4%); Falcons 1st (10-1, 153.5%)
FORM (LAST 5): Central LLLWL; Falcons WWWWW
LAST TIME THEY MET: Round 4 (March 27, 2013), State Netball & Hockey Centre; Central 47 def. Falcons 44

For Monash’s youngsters, the pending game against City West Falcons is one of intimidation if you were to look at the match-up on paper.

With a 10-1 record and comfortably on top of the table, the Falcons will certainly pose a tall order for Monash. However, it will be Monash taking an even amount of confidence into the clash, knowing that they are the only side to have knocked off the Falcons in season 2013.

Both sides will be different when they match up against each other on Wednesday night.

Despite a 32-goal loss at the ends of the Ariels last week, Monash will take some heart that their best play can match it with the top sides, evidenced by an even third-quarter.

Even through player availability, coach Robynn Pym told said her girls wouldn’t be hiding behind excuses and simply getting through to the end of the season.

“The girls have had the chance to look at themselves and see we’re going right and wrong and get that feedback,” Pym said.

“We want to be improving week by week, but not be considered the also-rans of the competition.

“No opposition is going to be too big for us from hereon in, there’ll all big, but they’re also human.”

The Season So Far: Monash Magic Update

While Monash supporters’ interests are directed mainly towards the regular Wednesday night battles at the State Netball and Hockey Centre, the youngest team at Central are quietly going about their business in emphatic fashion.’’

The Monash Magic Under 17s share the top spot on Tuesday Night Premier League ladder after 14 rounds.

With only two losses blemishing a near-perfect record, the youngest team at Monash jumped out to a 4-0 start after five rounds (including a bye) before falling to the Jets in Round 6.

Prior to that, the Magic had been nothing short of dominant regular handing opposition sides with 40-goal pastings.

Any fears that a loss would derail a handy start to the season quickly evaporated as the girls went on to record 5 consecutive wins leading into their second and final bye in Round 12.

A narrow loss to the Yarra Jets U/17s in a top of the table clash last Tuesday night broke the winning run, yet even that was done with just six healthy players on court as a May sickness sweeps through the young squad.

Despite the losses and the health of her young squad, Magic coach Melissa Ahearn told she still maintains the same positive outlook she shared at the beginning of season.

“The season’s going really well, but it is starting to get even more challenging as we begin to hit the home straight of the season,” Ahearn said.

“The other teams have really stepped up from the start of the season, which makes the challenge harder.

“I’m fortunate that the girls have also simultaneously stepped up and being really competitive.

“As I said, we’re only a few rounds off finals and a few girls are starting to feel the pinch because we have games coming up that we want to win simply to maintain our position.”

In a team that consistently wins, and wins well, Ahearn noted that there had been patches of complacency creeping into the squad throughout the year.

One of these occasions happened during their Round 10 match against the RREJECTS, in which the girls came from behind to steal the match in the end by four goals.

“It was one of those games where complacency did start to creep,” Ahearn said.

“To the girls’ credit, it was actually them who recognised what was going wrong during the game and really owned up to what was going on.

“In the end they pulled it off. All you can really say as a coach in those situations is: ‘it’s up to you’ and they managed to find something extra and come home with the win.”

Ahearn said that despite being in a winning position for most of the season, she wanted to shift the responsibility on to her players to “step up” and show continual improvement.

“The girls have been setting goals for themselves. It’s been my way of putting the onus on them to keep getting better,” Ahearn said.

“It gave the girls the opportunity to work out what they were good at, what they needed to work on and I guess what we wanted to achieve for the rest of the season.

“Areas such as communication are a focus for us and is something we need to knuckle down on, particularly with three really tough games coming up for us.

“Our long-term goal is the grand final and that just means that we need to sharpen our focus areas and keep winning to have that in our sights.”

There’s a touch of refusal but a much stronger aspect of incapability when Ahearn is asked to nominate players who’ve stood out for her in such a successful season.

“It’s hard to actually pinpoint someone because they’ve all stood up for me,” Ahearn said.

“The more I ask, the more they give and at the same time they’re not scared to have a go.

“There’s been times when one or two of them have had me wondering if they’re tiring during games, but then five minutes later, they go out and prove me wrong.

“There have also been a few who’ve made the step up into under 19’s and getting an opportunity there, to put forward their own case.”

With five games left in the season, Ahearn is wary of her players and the need to keep the foot on the gas, particularly after setting the goal of wanting to play off in the Grand Final.

“We’ve got games coming up that look easy because of where they sit on the ladder and going off previous results,” Ahearn said.

“The reality is that no games are easy and it’s going to be up to the girls’ preparation and their ability to keep stepping up.

“No ones easy at this level and it might just take an extra player here or there and the whole complexion changes.”

Whatever happens, you get the feeling that Ahearn and her young chargers are desperate not to let such a successful season slide before claiming the ultimate prize.

After knocking off the sixth-placed Fusion Teal 62-28 last Tuesday night, the Magic face the third-placed Jets in a pivotal encounter tomorrow night at the Waverley Netball Centre.