Metro League gears up for Semi Finals

The DOOLEYS Metro League Finals Series is upon us with the regular season wrapping up this week at Genea Netball Centre.

Following 18 weeks of exciting netball across six divisions, the top four teams will progress through to the Semi Finals starting next Monday night, 28 August.

Divisions 3 and 4 will get the action underway first, followed by Divisions 5 and 6 (Tuesday 29 August) before the top two divisions closing on Thursday night, 31 August.

For some, the opportunity to secure their place in the 2017 Grand Finals is up for grabs…but for others, just keeping their season alive is all that’s on the line.

DIVISION 1
Hunter United took out the Minor Premiership convincingly by 10 points, with Baulkham Hills Shire (2nd), Eastwood Ryde (3rd) and Illawarra District (4th) rounding out the top four. Unfortunately St George District narrowly missed out, trailing both Eastwood Ryde and Illawarra District by one point to finish fifth.

As a result, Hunter and Baulkham Hills will battle it out to secure a direct pathway into the 2017 title-decider, while Eastwood and Illawarra will be hoping to keep their season alive with a win seeing them progress to the Preliminary Final on Thursday 7 September.

The Minor Premiers will head into the Semi Final with confidence having won both previous contests against Baulkham Hills during the regular rounds; 68-29 in Round 2, and 58-34 in Round 11. However it’s a much closer match-up for the sudden-death Minor Semi Final.

Both Eastwood and Illawarra have a win apiece – Eastwood by nine goals in Round 4, while Illawarra took the chocolates later in the season in Round 13 (55-42). At the end of the regular season both sides finished with 11 wins and seven losses, with Eastwood’s greater goal percentage (even if by just 0.26 percent) seeing them finish higher on the ladder.

THU 31 AUG
Major Semi Final | Hunter United v Baulkham Hills Shire, 8.30pm, Show Court
Minor Semi Final | Eastwood Ryde v Illawarra District, 6.45pm, Court 1
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PREVIOUS RESULTS:
Rd 2: Hunter United 68 d Baulkham Hills Shire 29
Rd 4: Eastwood Ryde 43 d Illawarra District 34
Rd 11: Hunter United 58 d Baulkham Hills Shire 34
Rd 13: Illawarra District 55 d Eastwood Ryde 42

DIVISION 2
A seven game-winning stream has helped Hills District finished atop the ladder, leading Randwick (2nd) by four points, Blue Mountains (3rd) by five points, and Campbelltown District (4th) by a whopping 14 point margin.

Coincidentally, Hills’ last loss came at the hands of their Major Semi Final opponent – Randwick – who claimed a four-goal victory back in Round 11; Hills’ only loss for the season. As a result, Randwick are actually taking the longest winning streak (8 games) into the Finals Series, setting up an exciting showdown next Thursday night.

It’s a different story for the Minor Semi Finals, with Blue Mountains (who finished in third just one point shy of Randwick) claiming both matches against Campbelltown District this season. However the fourth-placed side will be taking momentum into the Finals Series with Campbelltown claiming three consecutive wins, including a convincing 38-goal victory against Blacktown City in Round 16.

THU 31 AUG
Major Semi Final | Hills District v Randwick, 6.45pm, Show Court
Minor Semi Final | Blue Mountains v Campbelltown, 8.30pm, Court 1
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PREVIOUS RESULTS:
Rd 2: Hills District 49 d Randwick 39
Rd 4: Blue Mountains 48 d Campbelltown 34
Rd 11: Randwick 53 d Hills District 49
Rd 13: Blue Mountains 62 d Campbelltown 41

DIVISION 3
Just one point has given Inner Western Suburbs the Minor Premiership over Central Coast, with a draw to the latter in Round 1 the difference between to the sides. Parramatta Auburn and Eastwood Ryde make up the final two spots despite a 10-point gap between the two.

Both Inner West and Central Coast have claimed a win over the other this season – the Minor Premiers drawing blood first in Round 9, before Central Coast returned serve this week (Round 18) by a comfortable 19 goal margin.

The win meant Central Coast takes a nine-game winning streak into the Finals Series, which combined by their 61-42 victory will give them plenty of confidence against Inner West.

Meanwhile Parramatta Auburn has claimed both previous match-ups with Eastwood; first in Round 5 by 11 goals, and then again in Round 14; however, Eastwood were able to pull back their opponent’s winning tally to just nine goals, meaning there’s scope for an upset should they take the court with confidence next week.

MON 28 AUG
Major Semi Final
| Inner Western Suburbs v Central Coast, 8.30pm, Show Court
Minor Semi Final | Parramatta Auburn v Eastwood Ryde, 6.45pm, Court 1
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PREVIOUS RESULTS:
Rd 5: Parramatta Auburn 47 d Eastwood Ryde 36
Rd 9: Inner Western Suburbs 49 d Central Coast 40
Rd 14: Parramatta Auburn 42 d Eastwood Ryde 33
Rd 18: Central Coast 61 d Inner Western Suburbs 42

DIVISION 4
Inner Western Suburbs claimed their second Minor Premiership in the fourth division, having dropped just one game all season to finish four points ahead of Hunter United (2nd). Despite their obvious advantage, the Division 4 Semi Finals are the first fixture we’ve seen where each opponent has defeated the other during the regular season.

Inner West put out a convincing performance in Round 6 to defeat Hunter 51-33, before the latter returned serve in Round 15 to win by five goals and deliver their opponent’s only loss for the season.

Liverpool City (3rd) and St George District (4th) have also both defeated the other in 2017 – first St George by 14 goals in the second round, before Liverpool pinned one back in Round 11 by five goals.

However looking closely at the top four further explains just how close the competition: Hunter United and Liverpool City drew 42 goals apiece in Round 14, while Hunter just got ahead of St George by a single goal in Round 13 – meaning anything could happen if/when these teams meet again.

MON 28 AUG
Major Semi Final
| Inner Western Suburbs v Hunter United, 6.45pm, Show Court
Minor Semi Final | Liverpool City v St George District, 8.30pm, Court 1
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PREVIOUS RESULTS:
Rd 2: St George District 47 d Liverpool City 33
Rd 6: Inner Western Suburbs 51 d Hunter United 33
Rd 11: Liverpool City 44 d St George District 39
Rd 15: Hunter United 48 d Inner Western Suburbs 43

DIVISION 5
Inner Western Suburbs capped off a successful 2017 season with the Association claiming their third Minor Premiership, this time in Division 5. They’ll meet Illawarra District after they withheld Hawkesbury City (3rd) to claim second place, with Penrith District rounding out the top four.

Again like the division above them, each Semi Final opponent has defeated the other during the regular rounds. And even more remarkably, their previous match-ups came in the exact same fixtures – Round 8 and Round 17.

The Minor Premiers claimed victory first in Round 8 by 11 goals, while Penrith District defeated Hawkesbury City by 12 goals in the same round. However both Illawarra District and Hawkesbury City returned serve in Round 17, winning by 13 goals and three goals, respectively.

When you look further into the 2017 fixtures, nearly all of the top four have at one time between the other: Inner West has been defeated by Illawarra and Hawkesbury City, only maintaining a perfect record against Penrith; Hawkesbury has been defeated by Illawarra and Penrith, and is the only team in the top four to have maintained a perfect record against the Minor Premiers; and, both Illawarra District and Penrith District have been defeated by the other three Finalists.

So what does that all mean? Well, we’re not entirely sure except it’s sure to be a hotly contested Finals Series where anyone could claim the 2017 Premiership!

TUE 29 AUG
Major Semi Final | Inner Western Suburbs v Illawarra District, 8.30pm, Show Court
Minor Semi Final | Hawkesbury City v Penrith District, 6.45pm, Court 1
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PREVIOUS RESULTS:
Rd 8: Inner Western Suburbs 44 d Illawarra District 33
Rd 8: Penrith District 51 d Hawkesbury City 39
Rd 17: Illawarra District 54 d Inner Western Suburbs 41
Rd 17: Hawkesbury City 42 d Penrith District 39

DIVISION 6
Camden & District became the fourth Association to claim a Minor Premiership after finish one point ahead of Hills District at the end of the regular season. Liverpool City and Campbelltown make up the final spots and so will meet each other in the sudden-death Semi Final.

Liverpool City will go into the fixture with confidence having claimed victory in both previous meetings – Round 2 by 16 goals, and then again in Round 11 by a convincing 23-goal margin.

But it’s a different story for the Major Semi Finalists. Also meeting in Round 2 and Round 11 previously, Hills District scrapped through to win by three goals before Camden & District returned serve later in the season by a fair-more-comfortable 14-goal margin.

While Camden currently holds bragging points, Hills are taking a longer winning streak into the Finals Series (if only by one game). And we all know anything can happen come Finals time!

TUE 29 AUG
Major Semi Final | Camden & District v Hills District, 6.45pm, Show Court
Minor Semi Final | Liverpool City v Campbelltown, 8.30pm, Court 1
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PREVIOUS RESULTS:
Rd 2: Hills District 44 d Camden & District 41
Rd 2: Liverpool City 60 d Campbelltown 44
Rd 11: Camden & District 53 d Hills District 39
Rd 11: Liverpool City 64 d Campbelltown 41