HDFNL mid-season netball review

HOW is your HDFNL netball team tracking at the halfway point of the regular season?

COLBINABBIN

The Grasshoppers' premiership defence has proceeded without a hitch.  A team bristling with talent has only been strengthened by the return from injury of star defender Kate Chirnside and Holly Guerra, back from a stint at Golden Square. Former Sandhurst goal shooter Annie Cobbledick has joined her sister and 2016 premiership coach Liz for a few games, giving the Grasshoppers another offensive weapon. The Greasshoppers have won 53 and drawn one of their past 63 matches, dating back to 2014. Their record in finals is even better, winning eight of the last 10.

Current position: Top (8-0)

Last five: WWWWW

Best win: A 49-37 win over White Hills in round seven left the Grasshoppers as the only undefeated team in the competition.

Key game ahead: v White Hills (July 29). Barring a loss of form, the Grasshoppers and Demons are headed for another top-two showdown.

ELMORE

After scoring their first win since mid-2015, the Bloods will look to add a few more in the latter half of the season, while improving their performances against the league's top tier of teams. They will be hoping for a better run with injuries than they have had through the first nine rounds. Carly Demeo and teenager Ally Rosaia have been two of the Bloods' most consistent players so far.

Current position: Eighth (1-7)

Last five: LLWLL

Best win: The Bloods' 34-30 round seven win against Heathcote was their first in more than two years.

Key game ahead: v Heathcote (July 29). The Bloods would be confident of getting a second win over the Saints.

HEATHCOTE

It's been a tough initiation for former Kilmore premiership coach Mitchell Gray, with the Saints failing to win a game so far. One poor quarter most weeks has hurt them and if they can rectify that wins could follow. Brittany Lindsay, Laura Sing and Tyler McKeown have been the standouts to this point for the Saints.

Current position: Ninth (0-8)

Last five: LLLLLL

Best win: Yet to come.

Key game ahead: v Elmore (July 29). This represents the Saints' best chance of a breakthrough victory.

HUNTLY

There is a genuine buzz around Strauch Reserve this season and much of it is netball generated. New coach Emily Eliades has the Hawks flying in third position. Their next challenge will be a top-two scalp against either Colbinabbin or White Hills. Sharna Appleby, and Ashlea and Emma Jenkyn (formerly Eaglehawk) have been excellent acquisitions for the Hawks, who are also getting strong contributions from defender Jayeden Quin and Laura Philbrick. A top three finish will be the goal from here.

Current position: Third (6-2)

Last five:  LWWWW

Best win: A 45-38 win over Leitchville-Gunbower in round six put the Hawks one game clear of the Bombers at the halfway mark of the season.

Key game ahead: If the Hawks can repeat their early season victory over Leitchville-Gunbower on July 22, the double chance should be theirs.

LEITCHVILLE-GUNBOWER

A top three finish is in sight for the Bombers, but it is likely going to require a win or two over the three teams currently above them. The Bombers showed exactly what they are capable of in a three-goal loss to the Grasshoppers in round one and will get a chance to reverse that result this week. Coach Jodie Lake continues to be one of the league's best defenders, while Kim Hanna, Jordy Holman and young defender Tahli Brereton give the Bombers enough class to push for the double chance.

Current position: Fourth (5-3)

Last five:  WLWLW

Best win: A 39-37 win over Mount Pleasant in round three is the Bombers' sole win over a team currently in the five.

Key game ahead: v Huntly (July 22). A loss to the Hawks in round six harmed the Bombers' chances of notching a top-three finish. They can put a similar dent in the Hawks' chances with a win at Huntly.

LOCKINGTON-BAMAWM UNITED

A run of three-straight losses has taken a bit of the gloss off a bright start to the season by the Cats, who start the second minor round one game outside the five. Saturday's clash against Mount Pleasant gives them an immediate opportunity to close that gap. A top three finish looks beyond the Cats, but former coach Paige Randall, defender Jane Reid and Sarah Eade given them a solid talent base to make life difficult for all teams.

Current position: Sixth (3-5)

Last five: LWLLL

Best win: A 43-26 win against North Bendigo in round five gave the Cats three wins from their first five games.

Key game ahead: v Mount Pleasant (June 17). If the Cats are going to play finals they will need to beat a few teams above them on the ladder. Their first chance to do that is this weekend.

MOUNT PLEASANT

The Blues have set themselves up nicely to play finals for the first time since 2014. New coach Belinda Pinner has brought experience and stability to the line-up, while fellow former Golden Square players Chantal O'Brien, who was rewarded with inter-league selection, and Clare Hope have added poise and skill. The Blues are one of two teams to keep the margin under 10 goals against Colbinabbin, while a nail-biting loss to Huntly also shows the Blues are capable of matching it with anyone on their day.

Current position: Fifth (4-4)

Last five:  WWLWL

Best win: A 46-18 round one victory against Lockington-Bamawm United gave an early indication of the Blues improvement.

Key game ahead: v Huntly (July 19). The Blues and Hawks played out a thriller in round 17, with Huntly emerging victorious by a mere two goals. The Blues would love to turn the tables and could cement a finals berth by doing so.

NORTH BENDIGO

Things have not gone as planned for the Bulldogs, who lost their bulk of their 2016 season line-up which reached the preliminary final. Their two wins have bookended the season so far, coming against Heathcote in round one and Elmore in round nine. Coaches Brigette McDougall and Jac Button will view this weeks clash against Heathcote as a chance to build some momentum. Samantha McDougall has been among the Bullodgs' best.

Current position: Seventh (2-6)

Last five: LLLLW

Best win: The Bulldogs' 41-23 win over Elmore last weekend was the biggest of their two victories.

Key game ahead: v Heathcote (June 17). A win would give the Bulldogs two in a row and some much-needed momentum.

WHITE HILLS

The Demons won their first six straight games before registering their only blemish against Colbinabbin. Like quality sides do, they rebounded immediately with a 20 goal victory over top three aspirant Leitchville-Gunbower and a follow-up win against Mount Pleasant. Recruit Anna-Grace Close has established herself as one of the league's premier defenders, while fellow newcomers Alyssa Cole and Yasmin Colley have added polish to an already skilful side, headed by gun midcourter Lauren Bowles. A top-two finish beckons for the Demons.

Current position: Second (7-1)

Last five: WWLWW

Best win: After losing against Colbinabbin, eyes were cast the Demons' way to see how they responded. They did it in style with a 55-35 triumph over a quality Leitchville-Gunbower team.

Key game ahead: v Colbinabbin (July 29). The Demons have lost their past two games against the Grasshoppers, including last season's grand final. They get their chance to make amends here.