The 2017 Victorian Netball League (VNL) Grand Finals are here, with the battle for the Premiership to be held at the State Netball Hockey Centre on Saturday.
Four clubs – the Melbourne University Lightning, DC North East Blaze, Geelong Cougars and City West Falcons will feature across three Grand Finals, beginning at 4:30pm.
It will be a case of déjà vu, with all three match-ups playing just a week ago in the Major Semi-Finals.
If those last meetings are anything to go by, it will be a thrilling conclusion to the VNL season, with all three matches being decided by two or less goals.
Championship Grand Final - 8:10pm
Melbourne University Lightning v DC North East Blaze
- Round 8, Melbourne University Lightning 52 def 47 DC North East Blaze
- Round 13, DC North East Blaze 54 def 52 Melbourne University Lightning
- Semi Final, Melbourne University Lightning 56 def 52 DC North East Blaze
The Melbourne University Lightning and DC North East Blaze have been the leading teams in the Championship Division all year.
With both teams boasting a mixture of youth and experience, they are both in prime position to claim the Premiership.
Last year’s champions, the Lightning, defeated the Blaze in their last outing in the Semi Final.
They didn’t have the match all their own way however, with the Blaze fast out of the blocks and leading the match early.
Watch out for Lightning Wing Defender, Elle Bennetts, matching-up on Blaze Wing Attack, Ella Bayliss.
This key match-up between Australian Netball League players will be crucial in determining the winner of the Grand Final.
Blaze Captain Bayliss, said that defensive pressure will be key to claiming the win.
“Lightning penetrated pretty easy in attack, so that’s what we changed, our defensive pressure,” said Bayliss.
“Hopefully we can bring the defensive pressure that we had today [in the Preliminary Final] into the game on Saturday and really bring it to them.”
Division 1 Grand Final - 6:20pm
Geelong Cougars v DC North East Blaze
- Round 9, Geelong Cougars 63 def 56 DC North East Blaze
- Round 18, DC North East Blaze 59 def 55 Geelong Cougars
- Semi Final, Geelong Cougars 55 def 54 DC North East Blaze
There is nothing separating these two teams as they head into the Grand Final.
The clock was against the Blaze the last time they played in the Semi Final, going down by just one goal, despite leading early in the match.
It will be an intense midcourt battle, with Blaze Captain Sam Coppinger and Cougars’ Bianca Cheever doing battle in the Centre, whilst Rebecca Colwell and Hannah van Gemst will shoot it out from their respective ends.
Coppinger said that the match will be close.
“All the times we’ve played against Geelong, it has been a really good game,” said Coppinger.
“We just need to stick to our game plan, just play our game and see what happens.”
19/U Grand Final - 4:30pm
Geelong Cougars v City West Falcons
- Round 4, Geelong Cougars 57 def 47 City West Falcons
- Round 10, Geelong Cougars 60 def 53 City West Falcons
- Semi Final, Geelong Cougars 63 def 62 City West Falcons
The Geelong Cougars have won all three matches against the City West Falcons in 2017, but don’t expect Geelong to have it all their own way, with the Falcons going down by just a single goal in last week’s Semi Final.
It was a thrilling finish, with a goal in the dying stages of the match sealing Geelong’s victory.
The Falcons’ Uneeq Palavi starred in the second half, bringing her team back into the match.
Palavi shot 40 goals from 42 attempts for the match.
A key factor in the match will be the contest between Cougars Goal Attack, Ruby Barkmeyer and Falcons Goal Defence Majar Hikuroa-Betham.
Barkmeyer shot 30 goals in the Semi-Final and was instrumental in her team’s victory.
The Cougars will be looking to defend their 2016 title and claim back-to-back premierships.
Matches begin from 4:30pm on Saturday 19 August at the SNHC.
Tickets are available for purchase at the door.
Young Person $5