BFNL trio seek VNL premiership honours

THREE of the BFNL’s stars will be involved in Victorian Netball League grand finals this weekend.

Rivals at Sandhurst and Gisborne, Heather Oliver and Maddy Stewart will line up for Melbourne University Lightning against DC North East Blaze in Saturday’s championship division premiership decider.

The two teams have dominated the competition this season, with the Lightning looking for back-to-back crowns.

Melbourne University defeated the Blaze 56-52 in their second semi-final encounter and holds a 2-1 edge in games played last season.

Oliver has been in scintillating form for Sandhurst this season and one of the keys in the Dragons’ top of the ladder run.

Gisborne’s Stewart’s is seeking back-to-back championship wins with the Lightning.

In the under-18 game grand final, Kangaroo Flat young gun Ruby Barkmeyer will be eyeing a premiership win with Geelong Cougars against City West Falcons.

The Cougars have won all three matches against the Falcons this season, including the first two by seven goals or more.

But the margin could not have been closer in their semi-final, with Geelong prevailing by a solitary goal.

Playing at goal attack, Barkmeyer shot 30 goals to be instrumental in the Cougars win.

Another standout performance will go a long way to ensuring a win for the Cougars, who are also searching for back-to-back titles.

Her involvement means Barkmeyer will miss Kangaroo Flat’s big game against Sandhurst at the QEO on Saturday.

The Roos will be looking to atone for a disappointing effort against the Dragons earlier in the season, when they were blown out of the water in the opening quarter and thrashed 62-25.

Dual premiership coach Janelle Hobbs said it was by far her side’s poorest game for the season, albeit against the highest quality of teams.

“We’ll definitely be out to put on a much better performance than that,” she said.

“We’ll need to get off to a strong start this time – they had us beaten in the first quarter last time.

“Hopefully we have improved on that. The girls have been playing quite well over the last month or so.

“It’s just a matter of getting our full side together and unfortunately we won’t again against Sandhurst with Ruby in a VNL grand final – that leaves  a big hole.

“In saying that they won’t have Heather Oliver either.”

Georgia McLennan will step up from A-reserve to partner the in-form Jamie-Lee Clohesy in the goal circle and was a solid contributor when she last filled-in for Barkmeyer against Kyneton a fortnight ago in a 64-12 win.

Sandhurst continues to go from strength-to-strength and will lock up top spot and a first round finals bye with a win.

In other games, sixth-placed Strathfieldsaye hosts South Bendigo, Gisborne meets Maryborough, Golden Square clashes with Kyneton, and Eaglehawk is at home against Castlemaine.