BY NATHAN DOLE
THE race for fifth place on the A-grade netball ladder has gone to this Saturday’s 18th and final round in the Bendigo Bank Heathcote DFNL season.
North Bendigo will start the day’s play in fifth place on 28 premiership points.
Now being coached by Imogen Davies and Kiralee Kinder, North Bendigo stayed in finals contention by scoring a 50-48 victory in last Saturday’s match against Heathcote.
The Bulldogs showed plenty of fight to beat the Saints on their court at Pigeon Park in Heathcote’s Barrack Reserve.
Massive challenge for North Bendigo to stay on the fifth rung as it takes on the unbeaten Elmore in this Saturday’s play.
The Bulldogs will have home-court advantage at Hibo Hotel Oval in Atkins Street.
When these clubs met in round nine it was Elmore which netted a 75-35 win against the red, white and blue.
Jointly coached by Allira Holmes and Gabe Richards, Elmore will want to bring a high level of intensity and skill in the lead-up to the finals.
Should North Bendigo be beaten it will rely on an upset win by Lockington Bamawm United against Mount Pleasant.
Sixth in the premiership race, Mount Pleasant is a win behind the Bulldogs.
The Carine Comer-coached Mount Pleasant has home-court advantage at Toolleen for the clash with the LBU Cats.
A closely-fought contest between LBU and the Blues at Lockington’s Nichol Trading Oval in round nine ended in a 45-37 win for Mount Pleasant.
It’s third against second as Colbinabbin meets White Hills on Colbinabbin’s court at M.J. Morgan Reserve.
These teams will meet in the qualifying final.
Just three goals separated the Demons and Grasshoppers when they clashed on the White Hills court at Winslow Constructors Oval in round nine.
On that day it was the Lauren Bowles-coached White Hills which fought on for a 54-51 victory against the Jen McIntyre-coached team in green and gold.
Stung by a two-goal loss last round, Heathcote will be determined to return to the winners’ list.
The Saints make the trek to Huntly’s Strauch Reserve to take on the Harlowe Huntly Hawks.
A tally of seven wins and 104 per cent has meant the Saints have locked in a berth in the elimination final.
The Brooke Bolton and Kelsey Hayes-coached Heathcote beat Huntly by 17 goals in round nine.
Final hit-out of the season for the Kym Bell-coached Huntly which will want to end on a high.
Leitchville Gunbower has the bye.
Standings in the Heathcote DFNL A-grade netball competition:
Elmore 183 per cent, 60 points; White Hills 184, 52; Colbinabbin 141, 48; Heathcote 104, 28; North Bendigo 83, 28; Mount Pleasant 86, 24; Huntly 81, 20; Leitchville Gunbower 55, 8; Lockington Bamawm United 52, 4.
There could be a switching of ladder positions in the lower grades.
Lockington Bamawm United starts the round in sixth place on the B-grade ladder, four points and 1.2 per cent adrift of the fifth-placed Colbinabbin.
The Cats play the fourth-placed Mount Pleasant, and Colbinabbin is at home against the ladder-leading White Hills.
In B-reserve, North Bendigo, Mount Pleasant and White Hills are all locked on 44 points.
All three will start favourite to take the points, but an upset could spring a switch in the ladder order.
In the 17-and-under competition, fifth and sixth-placed Mount Pleasant and Huntly are on 34 points.
The Blues are a win and 13 per cent clear of the Hawks, but take on the ladder-leading Lockington Bamawm United.
Huntly is at home to the second-placed Heathcote Saints.