Local steals show with last-gasp winner

Winner: Morwell's Daisy Hill scored the winning goal for the Hawks in VNL action in Traralgon at the weekend. Photograph supplied




LOCAL netball talent was on display as the Victorian Netball League came to Traralgon at the Gippsland Regional Indoor Sports Stadium.

The Hawks and the Wilson Storage Southern Saints VNL clubs went head-to-head on Saturday evening.

The Hawks netball club have made Gippsland their home away from home, with local talent both on and off the court. President Shane O’Sullivan, having grown up in Gippsland, was very happy with the crowd and pool of local talent the club continues to benefit from.

The Hawks brought Round 15 to Traralgon and put on a show that left the crowd in raptures.

The first game was the 19 & Under Division, where fourth-placed Hawks were favourites over sixth-placed Saints.

The Hawks had a lacklustre start, giving their opposition the chance to get away early and going into the first break with a seven goal lead. The Hawks won the second quarter but the score was still in Saints’ favour.

Local Warragul player Sienna Green led the way for Hawks, staying calm throughout the match displaying a similar style of play to Australian Diamond Jamie Lee Price in the centre.

The composed Hawks team lifted their intensity in the second half with the support from Drouin girl Lucy McKellar in wing defence.

Relentless defence and pressure proved to be the winning formula for Hawks as they set the scene for the remaining two matches and took the premiership points 44-36.

Best on court for Hawks were Sienna Green, Georgie O’Brien and Allie Davidson.

The Championship Division match followed, seeing seventh-placed Saints take on Hawks who were sitting in eighth position.

Gippsland girls Jasmine Ferguson and Kelsey Buxton were strong in the midcourt, but didn’t have it all their way as Saints were causing headaches for Hawks, forcing them to look at resets and risky passes to bring the ball down the court.

Hawks raised the intensity in the second quarter, increasing their lead by five goals, but it was the second half that took their opponents by surprise, the Hawks piling on 34 goals to the Saints 22.

Rolling substitutions were well utilised by Hawks, seeing Hannah Keane make her Championship debut in goal attack. The change was seamless, and Saints defenders were outclassed by the Hawks shooters.

Best on court for Hawks was Kaylia Stanton, Lauren Hucker and Kelsey Buxton in a final score of 65-48 to the Hawks.

The best was saved for last as Division 1 took to the court.

Once again, local talent lined the courts. Daisy Hill and Olivia Barnett for Hawks and Jordan Pyle lining up for Saints with Pyle and Hill eventually matching up against each other.

With Hawks second on the ladder and Saints sitting sixth, it would be right to think the Hawks would easily account for their opposition, but someone forgot to tell the Saints that.

Hawks struggled to feed the ball to their goalers, with Saints defenders relentless with their pressure. Pyle playing in goal defence was delivering everything her coach was asking, making it very difficult for Hawks to get a flow on in attack.

The Hawks went into the first quarter break three goals down after some very accurate shooting from the Saints goalers.

The second quarter had Saints still in front after winning it 14-12, seeing Hawks down by five. The Hawks had a change in defence in the third quarter with another local girl in Moe’s Olivia Barnett rested as a result of an injury earlier in the week. Both teams continued to pile on the goals, at times the match resembling a tennis game going from end-to-end, however the Hawks got the upper hand adding 16 goals to the Saints’ 12.

The tables were turning but Saints were still in front at the final break thanks to a goal in the dying seconds.

The score at 41-40 in Saints favour set up a spectacular last quarter, with both teams putting everything on the line.

Yet another local, Morwell’s Hill, came out at goal attack for the Hawks, seeing her up against Pyle in goal defence, a very even match-up for the two local girls.

With the Hawks supporters on the edge of their seats, as both teams went goal-for-goal, they erupted in cheers with around one minute to go in the final quarter when Hawks wing defence Kaila Swindell took a superb intercept which Hill took advantage of, scoring what would be the winning goal.

The Hawks pulled off a stunning come-from-behind win and having the only lead for the match when it mattered most, winning an absolute nail-biter 56-55.