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By David Nagel

SOUTH EAST FOOTBALL NETBALL LEAGUE
REVIEW – ROUND 12
A magic dust has been sprinkled over the South East Football Netball League with a remarkable third draw in as many weeks taking place between Cranbourne and ROC at Casey Fields on Saturday.
Berwick and Hampton Park started the enchanted run in Round 10 with the Wickers and Cranbourne continuing the magic-carpet ride a week later.
Cranbourne – just like Berwick – has now had two consecutive draws after the thrilling 39-39 finish against the rejuvenated Kangaroos on the weekend.
Cranbourne coach Donna Wilson must have mixed emotions right now, the Eagles drawing twice after elevating expectations with a magnificent victory over the ladder-leading Tooradin in Round 10.
The Eagles had a chance to lock away a finals berth over the last fortnight – but will now have to fight hard for a piece of the September action. This week’s game against a rapidly improving Hampton Park reads to be a key chapter in the story.
Cranbourne was lucky to escape with a draw against the Kangaroos who blew the Eagles away with an electrifying first term. With Courtney Linhart (GS) and Gemma Stacey (GA) sharing the load up front, the Kangas scored 14-6 in their best quarter of netball for the season.
Ash Barnett (C), Olivia Hamilton (WA) and Amy Jones (WD) were dominating the midcourt, while Laura Quinn (GD) and Mel Overdyk (GK) had a firm grip on things in defence.
The Eagles narrowed the margin over the next two quarters but still trailed by four at the final change.
The home side needed someone to step up in the final term and some key players responded.
Tara Cecil (GK) and Jodie Holt (GD) did a magnificent job in defence, restricting the Kangaroos to just five goals in the last quarter, while Alanah Hardy (GA) was superb, scoring all nine of the Eagles goals.
In the end, the teams couldn’t be split!
Hampton Park’s season was in need of some urgent resuscitation and the Redbacks breathed new-life into their finals hopes with an upset 43-36 victory over Doveton at Robinson Oval.
This was the beginning of a massive fortnight for the sixth-placed Redbacks, who had to defeat both Doveton (fourth) and Cranbourne (fifth) to keep a finals berth within reach.
And it’s a mission that is half-way completed after clearly their best win for the season.
Despite their mixed form, coach Kylie Kibble firmly believes that if she can get her best team on the court the Redbacks can still challenge the heavyweights of the competition.
They have been competitive against Beaconsfield and Narre Warren this season but a 52-14 thumping at the hands of Tooradin leaves some serious question marks surrounding the validity of that belief.
For now the Redbacks can bask in the glow of a really strong performance.
The Redbacks led from start to finish, leading by two, four and a solitary goal at the first three breaks before firing up strongly in the final term.
With their season the line, the likes of Brooke Kiely (GK), Karli Foster (GD) and Chloe Birch (WA) really stood tall, while Stephanie Hille (GS) had a massive impact, shooting 11 last-quarter goals.
Liz Edwards, Shae Gee, Akanisi Seeto and Hayley Stewart were solid contributors for the Doves.
Tooradin has broken its longest drought for the season – 20 days – with a convincing 72-26 victory over Pakenham at Toomuc Reserve.
Of course that’s an over-dramatisation; the Seagulls only lost the one game against Cranbourne before sitting on the sidelines last week with the bye. But since when have we ever let the facts get in the way of a good story!
The Seagulls, as expected, were simply too good all over the court for the Lions and will now set themselves on fine-tuning their well-oiled machine ahead of finals.
Alex Maher (GA) was in fantastic touch for the Seagulls, shooting 15 goals herself in a stunning 19-5 opening salvo from the premiership favourites.
Coach Kelly Andrews spread the load beautifully throughout the afternoon, using nine players and giving each one at least three quarters on the court.
Jess Cox (WD) rebounded well from defence with some great supply from defenders Ebony Dolan, Bec Kinna and Jess Maher.
The Lions’ who trailed by 32 at half time, were far more competitive in the second half with Renae Joiner, Elayne Schneider and Carly Saunders doing a wonderful job through the midcourt.
And Narre Warren tuned up for its mouth-watering clash against Beaconsfield with a resounding 24-goal victory over Berwick at Edwin Flack Reserve.
The Magpies set up their 65-41 triumph with a masterful first quarter where they outscored the Wickers 20-5, with Gabby Dwyer and Tayla Shannon combining wonderfully under the ring.
They built that 15-goal advantage to 20 at half-time and entered the final quarter with a 25-goal lead after a 19-14 third term.
A combination of taking the foot of the accelerator and the Wickers’ desire to fight the game out to the very end saw the margin narrowed slightly in the final stanza.
Britt Mashado (C) and Leigh Taylor (WA) were dynamite for the winners, while Morgan Thomas (GD) and Madelina Nyoul (GK) did well to restrict the damage for the Wickers.
The Magpies will be keen to avenge a three-goal loss to Beaconsfield when the teams meet at Holm Park Reserve on Saturday. The Eagles will be fresh after coming off the bye.
This week: Beaconsfield v Narre Warren, Officer v Tooradin-Dalmore, Hampton Park v Cranbourne, Pakenham v Berwick, Doveton v Bye.

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