Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Round 15 Preview: MUC v DC North East Blaze

Monash University Central v DC North East Blaze
Wednesday, June 19; State Netball & Hockey Centre, Court 1
Under 19s (7pm); Championship (8.20pm); Division 1 (9.40pm)

We’re into the final four games of the season and with two Monash sides clinging to finals positions, games like these couldn’t come at a more crucial time.

Only the Division 1 side were capable of upsetting the previously undefeated Genesis, while the Under 19s fought bravely for three quarters and the Championship side couldn’t challenge their opponents when they fell behind.

Ladder positions count for nothing, wins count for everything.

LADDER: Central 8th (3-11, 85.3%); Blaze 9th (1-1-11, 61.2%)
FORM (LAST 5): Central WLLLL; Blaze WLLLL
LAST TIME THEY MET: Round 2 (February 27, 2013), State Netball & Hockey Centre; Central 64 def. Blaze 37

For a depleted side, Monash is showing in the latter stages of this season that there’s still plenty of fight.

In the past three weeks, Central have taken the challenge right up to three finals contenders, two of them being the top two in the Falcons and against the Genesis last week.

Whilst it was their second half that displayed vast improvement against the Falcons, it’s been finishing that has been Monash’s Achilles heel, with two final quarter fadeouts arguably costing the young side wins.

They face DC North East Blaze who have had an identical last month to Monash, with their only win and a draw giving them consolation in what has been an inconsistent season.

Coach Robynn Pym said these types of games were ones that had to be won.

“We’ve generally held the wood over the Blaze and particularly when realistic chances to win are presented to us, we have to take them,” Pym said.

“The girls are really confident and it’s showing in our netball. We didn’t deserve to fade out like we did last week.

“We’re looking forward to the earlier timeslot. Just a little bit more polish and we’ll get over the line.”

LADDER: Central 4th (9-1-4, 117.8%); Blaze 7th (5-8, 92.2%)
FORM (LAST 5): Central LWLWW; Blaze LLLWL
LAST TIME THEY MET: Round 2 (February 27, 2013), State Netball & Hockey Centre; Central 37 def. Blaze 35

A potential top two contender, Monash will be looking to continue their momentum after being the first side to inflict a defeat upon the top-of-the-table Boroondara Genesis last week.

Monash took apart the competition leaders in a textbook display of netball, with winners all over the court, with Coach Jacqui Hansen particularly highlighting the offensive drive of defenders Kate Slattery and Adele Clydesdale.

The encounter with the Blaze sees the fourth-placed Monash going for its third win on the trot, a feat it hasn’t been able to achieve in a fairly up and down season.

Whilst ruing a missed opportunity to jump into their ideal position of second – just two points separates second from fourth – on the ladder, they will have their chance against a Blaze side with just one win from the previous five starts.

Coach Jacquie Hansen told monashuniversitycentral.com.au said there’s element of risk in complacency off the back of their 13-goal win last week.

“The rest of the season is critical and we need to win all of our remaining games to challenge for second spot,” Hansen said.

“The good thing is that we have a lot of options in our squad. We’ve got the ability to rest girls, while there’s girls who are really hungry in wanting to contribute.”

LADDER: Central 4th (9-1-4, 117.8%); Blaze 7th (5-8, 92.2%)
FORM (LAST 5): Central LWLWW; Blaze LLLWL
LAST TIME THEY MET: Round 2 (February 27, 2013), State Netball & Hockey Centre; Central 37 def. Blaze 35

The once-flying Championship side has been brought back to earth in recent weeks and will look to rectify the win-loss record with a win after losses against finals-contending teams in two of the last three weeks.

There have been many positives for Monash, particularly in gaining star centre Tegan Ashmore back from overseas, while Sarah Main is getting continuity back in her game and showing flashes of her brilliant 2012 form.

Monash come up against a Blaze side hovering in the middle of the pack, staring at the possibility of four straight losses.

However Central Coach Leesa Maxfield says the Blaze are not to be taken lightly, pointing recent competitive performances.

“We’ve seen the Blaze as very much a confidence side in recent outings,” Maxfield said.

“Once they feel like they’re in with a sniff they can put goals on you in a hurry. It’ll be up to us to try and close them out early.

“We have to establish our style of netball at the beginning to ensure we’re not a position to play catch-up netball.”