FINALS PREVIEWS by Dave Nagel

MPNFL DIVISION 1 FOOTBALL

Magpies and Bulls very rarely appear in fairy tales – but a magical story is about to unfold when Crib Point and Karingal put it all on the line in the MPNFL Division Two Grand Final at Somerville.

The storylines here are intense.

The Magpies are looking for their third-consecutive Nepean/Division Two premiership – against the Bullettes who are looking to break a heartbreaking run of three grand final losses in Peninsula/Division One.

And every one of those heart breakers has come at the hands of MPNFL powerhouse Edi-Asp.

“It’s probably good for the club that we face a different opposition because some of those losses to Edi-Asp have been very close and they can stay with you,” said first-year Karingal coach Jess Whitfort.

“Edi-Asp were a great team and so is Crib Point, they’re going for three in a row so there’s a couple of fairy tales there waiting to happen. Crib Point is a hard and tough team, very defensive and will make us pay if we don’t do most things right.

“We have to be clear and concise with our preliminary movements and make the most of opportunities.”

Whitfort, a 2013 premiership player with Mt Eliza, fully understands the significance of this game to her new club.

“The history of the club was explained quite early in the piece so there was some pressure to fit in with such a great program,” she said.

“It’s such a strong program, but I’ve just tried to put my own stamp on things and give some clear direction to the players. We’ve had a lot of movement between teams, but the focus is clear and we understand what we want to be known for.”

The Bullettes will understandably be desperate for success, with players like Renee Brewster, Mardi Cunningham and Courtney Osborne forming the backbone of the squad over the last three years.

“They’ve been great stalwarts of the club and the new players have taken the time to understand and appreciate the time and effort that those players have put in,” Whitfort said.

“We will use those players as motivation, but at the same time we have to keep a lid on things, stay calm and focus on the process and hopefully things fall our way.”

Whitfort has brought a fresh new look to the table with Abuk Kenyang, Amelia Haugen, Madi Capsalis and Isabella Riddell adding a touch of class that could make all the difference.

And the Bullettes are hitting their straps at precisely the right time of year.

“We’ve been building, with girls coming in and out of the side all year, but we’re all together now and starting to play some of our best netball of the season,” Whitfort said.

“We’ve sort of been plodding away, with plenty of things to work on, but we qualified for finals and have had two good wins since we made it. There’s a great buzz around the club, with four senior teams in the grand final so hopefully we can bring a flag or two back to the club.”

It definitely won’t be easy because the Magpies are a super outfit, well drilled and totally prepared for the biggest game of the season.

The move into rarefied air if successful against the Bullettes.

Dionne Douglas, Kellie Davidson and Lily Cook are the keys to the Pies through the midcourt, while Tessa Moncrieff and Adrienne Harris give nothing away in defence. And Shaye Williams and Ebony McDermott- well a steady hand comes in very useful in the ultimate pressure situation.

Whitfort just can’t wait for Saturday to roll around.

“It’s been a special year all round, everyone has been super supportive, but it’s hard to explain the feeling of winning a grand final.” Whitfort said.

“There’s nothing quite like it, and I just hope the girls finally get rewarded for all the hard work and time and effort they have put in to this campaign.

“But, win, lose or draw, we know we couldn’t have done anything more or have been more prepared for the day.”

Sorry Bullettes, there will be only one fairy tale this time around – it’s the Magpies to go back-to-back-to-back with a thrilling two-goal victory.

 

MPNFL DIVISION 2 FOOTBALL

It’s the most precarious place to be in finals football – the dominant team of the season facing a straight sets elimination square in the face.

It’s the scenario facing Dromana today as the Tigers look to avoid becoming the most dreaded of football statistics when they take on a surging Langwarrin in the MPNFL Division Two preliminary final at Somerville.

Football seasons are a bit like the fickle Melbourne weather – or better still being the Prime Minister of Australia – geez they change in a hurry!

Don’t be fooled by the narrow nature of the 14-point loss to Red Hill in the second semi-final last week, the Tigers were comprehensively outplayed, and if not for some inaccurate kicking by the Hillmen would have faced a much larger deficit at the final siren.

Some of the Tigers’ spark players appeared to run out of flint, and will need to reignite this afternoon or that ultimate humiliation could be on the cards.

That’s the negative – but the positives still abound heading into the big clash against the Kangas.

They may have been lucky to stay in touch but the Tigers dug deep last week and nearly stole a game they shouldn’t have won through sheer guts and determination.

Players were down and their opposition was playing close to their best football – but the Tiges were still in it deep into the final term.

Sam Geurts, Terry Wheeler and Billy Quigley just refused to give in, while Zac Muschialli repelled many a forward thrust.

And the biggest positive – the Tigers have been the best team all year and that ability just doesn’t disappear overnight.

Langwarrin, well they’re enjoying a magic-carpet ride that nobody really saw coming.

The Kangaroos were still searching for a finals berth just three weeks ago, but wins over Chelsea and Karingal have them poised for the biggest game in their recent history.

Their 1, 2, 3 midfield combination of Michael Parker, Zach Andrewartha and Blake Peach is winning plenty of the footy, with ruckman Matt Naughton providing some great impetus in the ruck.

Mitch Cuthbert, Shane Paterson and Blake Harkness have been rock-solid performers for the Kangas, and their 23rd player – belief – is getting stronger and stronger as each final goes by.

The start is absolutely critical for the Kangaroos today.

Stick with the Tigers early and apply scoreboard pressure and the ‘what ifs’ will start to kick in.

It’s the perfect set up for what should be a cracking cut-throat eliminator.

For the first time this season the Tigers are not the number-one contender – but they’ll advance to the big dance with a 25-point victory.

 

SEFNL FOOTBALL

The two school-yard bullies of the South East Football Netball League finally meet their match on Saturday when Narre Warren and Berwick collide in a classic second semi-final battle at Holm Park Reserve.

These teams have the reputation of being the biggest and best in the business – and have both had the upper hand at times this season – but now is the time when the battles really count.

How does that old saying go…something about, “He who laughs last, laughs longest.”

The Magpies certainly weren’t laughing, but had a slight grin, after consecutive victories over the Wickers in rounds two and seven.

But those 19 and 10-point victories could be filed in the ‘not-relevant’ section of the school library after the Wickers triumphed by 36 points at their last meeting in the final round of the season.

The Magpies with a 2-1 record to draw on, the Wickers with recent bragging rights – both teams will run out with their chests pumped out believing they are the team to beat.

The Magpies have had a stunning season, catching most by surprise in becoming the number-one ranked team for the season.

Berwick were undefeated and clearly the best heading in, but the balance struck by the Magpies has been superb.

Veterans like Michael Collins and Col McNamara have played every game this year, with Brad Scalzo and Trent Shinners from the same vintage, while youngsters like Jesse Davies and Tom Miller have taken huge steps in their football development.

And Berwick, well it seems to be peaking at the right time of year.

The Wickers have obvious class, with Travis Tuck, Madi Andrews and Bryce Rutherford leading a powerful midfield, but it’s the depth provided by players like Bailey Asher, Tom Brennan, Will Arthurson and Matt Young that gives a truer indication of why the Wickers will be difficult to topple.

It should be an absolute beauty!

Sunday’s first semi-final at Pakenham between Cranbourne and Beaconsfield is harder to read than Chinese arithmetic.

Cranbourne is highly rated but has won just one of its last four games, while Beacy is coming off a four-game winning streak.

Beacy holds a two-one record over Cranny this year and struck most recently with a 14-point victory in round 16.

This one is important for Cranbourne who failed to make the grand final last year for the first time since 2010. Failing to make this year’s prelim would be another step in the wrong direction.

Zak Roscoe, Shaun Marusic and Luke Bee-Hugo have been pillars for Cranny this year, while Riley Verbi and Brad and Matt Homfray have delivered similar consistency for Beacy.

Seriously – toss a coin on this one!

 

MPNFL DIVISION 1 NETBALL

Edithvale-Aspendale will need to dig deep and produce one of the biggest efforts in the history of this wonderful netball club if it is to take out this year’s MPNFL Division One crown.

The four-time reigning champion lost the second semi-final to Sorrento last week, setting up a heavyweight contest against Seaford in Sunday’s preliminary final at Mornington.

The equation is now simple for Claire Houben and her Eagles – defeat two high-class and quality opponents to take a rare place in MPNFL sporting history.

Last week’s contest against Sorrento was a real arm wrestle from the beginning.

Both teams applied tremendous defensive pressure in the early stages, making it very difficult for the opposition to complete a full clear passage of play.

In one of the lowest scoring quarters of the year the Sharks led 7-5 at quarter time.

Neither team could gain any clear advantage through the middle stages of the match, with both teams scoring 12 goals in the second quarter and 11 in the third.

It gave the Sharks a crucial two-goal buffer heading into the final term, which they increased to a 41-36 victory at the final whistle.

Both teams will go in confident of success in their next match, the Sharks in the grand final and the Eagles this weekend against the Tigers.

The quality on display was quite impressive, with both teams sticking to their starting seven for nearly the full duration of the match.

Sorrento’s midcourt was led wonderfully well by former Australian star Shelley O’Donnell (C), who had Hannah Mundy (WA) and Briana O’Hehir (WD) by her side, while Alana Schaeche, Maddi Graham and Dom Taylor took care of the goal-scoring duties.

And Kate Youlten (GK) and Bec Kelly (GD) were absolute rocks in defence.

The Eagles were certainly not disgraced and will throw a mountain of challenges at Seaford.

Christina Vickery (C) went head-to-head with O’Donnell and could hold her head high, while Brianna Hollis (WA) and Caris MacInnes (WD) gave able support through the mid-section of the court.

Anne Leeds (GK) and Michelle Sanders (GD) were effective down back, while Emily Patterson (GS) and Alex Ball (GA) faced a tough task against a strong Sorrento defence.

And it won’t get any easier today – because Seaford is also very strong in that area of the court.

Tracey Dell (GK) and Kara Hargrave (GD) have been a deadly duo for years – not in this competition mind you – having led Narre Warren to back-to-back success in the SEFNL competition.

They know how to get it done – but will rely heavily on the midcourt pressure to ease the burden and pressure on Sunday.

That’s where players like Alesina Toleafoa (WD), Rachel Cosans (C) and Tayla Robertson (WA) fit in, applying pressure on the Eagles that they hope will break them down.

And Ash Mitchener (GS) and Nichelle Liepa (GA) will need to make the most of very single opportunity when the ball in hand.

Before we move on to our tip for this week, we should really dip our lids to Rosebud who gave the Tigers a massive scare in last week’s first semi-final at Mornington.

The Buds were clearly the better team in the first quarter, skipping out to a five-goal lead after a stunning early burst. The Tigers reined them in, but the Buds can be fully satisfied that they gave everything they had on the biggest stage they have performed on in quite some time.

To Emma White, Nicole Hadgkiss, Nicole Chianta, Lauren Robinson, Sally Hunter, Millie McDermott, Courtney McLennan, and Beth Leach, congratulations on a wonderful season and a great effort against the Tigers last week.

Now for the tip!

Can Seaford really end this remarkable run of the Eagles, or will Houben and her champion team rise to the occasion once again and tick the next box on their way to a fifth-consecutive premiership?

It’s going to be tight, it’s going to be tough, it’s going to be one of the best games we’ve seen for the season.

It’s the Eagles to keep their incredible dream alive – with Patterson to break a deadlock in the dying seconds.

 

MPNFL DIVISION 2 NETBALL

Magpies and Bulls very rarely appear in fairy tales – but a magical story is about to unfold when Crib Point and Karingal put it all on the line in the MPNFL Division Two Grand Final at Somerville.

The storylines here are intense.

The Magpies are looking for their third-consecutive Nepean/Division Two premiership – against the Bullettes who are looking to break a heartbreaking run of three grand final losses in Peninsula/Division One.

And every one of those heart breakers has come at the hands of MPNFL powerhouse Edi-Asp.

“It’s probably good for the club that we face a different opposition because some of those losses to Edi-Asp have been very close and they can stay with you,” said first-year Karingal coach Jess Whitfort.

“Edi-Asp were a great team and so is Crib Point, they’re going for three in a row so there’s a couple of fairy tales there waiting to happen. Crib Point is a hard and tough team, very defensive and will make us pay if we don’t do most things right.

“We have to be clear and concise with our preliminary movements and make the most of opportunities.”

Whitfort, a 2013 premiership player with Mt Eliza, fully understands the significance of this game to her new club.

“The history of the club was explained quite early in the piece so there was some pressure to fit in with such a great program,” she said.

“It’s such a strong program, but I’ve just tried to put my own stamp on things and give some clear direction to the players. We’ve had a lot of movement between teams, but the focus is clear and we understand what we want to be known for.”

The Bullettes will understandably be desperate for success, with players like Renee Brewster, Mardi Cunningham and Courtney Osborne forming the backbone of the squad over the last three years.

“They’ve been great stalwarts of the club and the new players have taken the time to understand and appreciate the time and effort that those players have put in,” Whitfort said.

“We will use those players as motivation, but at the same time we have to keep a lid on things, stay calm and focus on the process and hopefully things fall our way.”

Whitfort has brought a fresh new look to the table with Abuk Kenyang, Amelia Haugen, Madi Capsalis and Isabella Riddell adding a touch of class that could make all the difference.

And the Bullettes are hitting their straps at precisely the right time of year.

“We’ve been building, with girls coming in and out of the side all year, but we’re all together now and starting to play some of our best netball of the season,” Whitfort said.

“We’ve sort of been plodding away, with plenty of things to work on, but we qualified for finals and have had two good wins since we made it. There’s a great buzz around the club, with four senior teams in the grand final so hopefully we can bring a flag or two back to the club.”

It definitely won’t be easy because the Magpies are a super outfit, well drilled and totally prepared for the biggest game of the season.

The move into rarefied air if successful against the Bullettes.

Dionne Douglas, Kellie Davidson and Lily Cook are the keys to the Pies through the midcourt, while Tessa Moncrieff and Adrienne Harris give nothing away in defence. And Shaye Williams and Ebony McDermott- well a steady hand comes in very useful in the ultimate pressure situation.

Whitfort just can’t wait for Saturday to roll around.

“It’s been a special year all round, everyone has been super supportive, but it’s hard to explain the feeling of winning a grand final.” Whitfort said.

“There’s nothing quite like it, and I just hope the girls finally get rewarded for all the hard work and time and effort they have put in to this campaign.

“But, win, lose or draw, we know we couldn’t have done anything more or have been more prepared for the day.”

Sorry Bullettes, there will be only one fairy tale this time around – it’s the Magpies to go back-to-back-to-back with a thrilling two-goal victory.

 

SEFNL NETBALL

The two best performed teams of 2018 are set for an epic showdown when Tooradin-Dalmore and Beaconsfield lock horns in the second semi-final at Holm Park Reserve.

There’s a massive prize on offer, with a grand final berth at stake, in a contest that will see some high-quality performers leaving nothing left in the tank.

That’s the thing about finals – at the end of the day there are absolutely no excuses as the best teams pit their skills and mental belief against the other.

The score stands at one-all this year with the Seagulls defeating the Eagles by three goals at Tooradin in round four before Kelly Whitecross and her girls returned serve with an 11-goal victory at this same venue in round 15.

That was Tooradin’s only loss for the season.

The Eagles will come in full of confidence after a strong victory, 50-42, over Narre Warren last week.

Scores were locked at quarter time before the Eagles surged in the second and third quarters, scoring 30 to 17 to take total control of the contest.

Abbie Sheers and Dani Cameron gave nothing away in defence and their battle with the dangerous Tooradin goalers will go a long way to deciding the first team through to the grand final.

Kaela Hughes, Ash Gill and Zoe Mason were terrific through the midcourt last week, while Bianca Sanzaro and Tanya Mijovic made the most of every opportunity.

Mijovic ignited the Eagles in the second term, before handing over to Dani Fedel who played a key role in the second half.

And for the Seagulls – well this is what they’ve been waiting for!

The opportunity to win back-to-back titles is just two glorious victories away, with Kelly Andrews sure to have her troops primed for the ultimate effort against the Eagles.

Players like Ebony Dolan and Alex Duff are enjoying this run of success, with Jess Cox, Alex Maher, Bec Kinna, Emma Iacovou, Sara Duncan and Jess Maher transforming the fortunes of the club in recent times.

This one will go down to the wire, both teams are too good for that not to happen…and it’s the Seagulls to book the first ticket to grand final day with a two-goal victory.

Narre Warren is fully aware that only its very best netball will do when the Magpies take on Cranbourne in Sunday’s first semi-final at Pakenham.

These teams have played three times this year with the Magpies winning by four goals in round one before the Eagles rediscovered some magic to fight out a thrilling draw in round nine.

The Magpies made a huge statement in round 14 however, thrashing the Eagles 64-33 to take clear favouritism into this week’s contest.

The Magpies were good early against Beaconsfield last week.

Jemma Osborne had the hot hand in attack as the Magpies went goal-for-goal with the highly-rated Eagles in the first term. Caitlin Egan and Caitlin Stephens had the Eagles’ goalers under wraps, while Carly Stagg, Erin Clark and Britt Mashado – who took on Kaela Hughes – were terrific performers through the midcourt.

Chloe Phillips was doing a great job of feeding Osborne, but the Magpies were soon outplayed through the middle stages of the match.

They require a four-quarter effort against Cranbourne today.

Coach Donna Wilson would have been thrilled with Cranny’s 45-21 victory over Doveton in last week’s elimination final, a game that looked difficult to pick heading in.

Tegan Stahl and Nat Sparks continued their fine form this season, while Tahlia Coates, Kasey Teakle, Kayla Wilson and Allie Oakenfull have all played key roles in taking the Eagles this far.

The Magpies defeated Cranbourne by 17 goals in last year’s preliminary final, and while the margin won’t be that great – they will again.

It’s the Magpies to win by eight.

 

 

 

 

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