It’s hard to believe but after 17 weeks of pulsating action at the Genea Netball Centre, the 2017 DOOLEYS Metro League has reached the final round of regular season before the cream of the crop go on to contest the Finals Series starting next week.
And what a week of action it promises to be at Sydney Olympic Park as teams across the six divisions look to secure minor premierships, consolidate their positions in the top four or, in the case of some, end their 2017 campaigns on a winning note.
One team looking ahead with great confidence to the Finals will be Hunter United who have long since sown up the Minor Premiership, having a commanding seven point lead on second-placed Illawarra District with a game to play.
Illawarra are also guaranteed their place in the business end of the competition but face a blockbuster clash with Baulkham Hills Shire (3rd) this week, with the winner securing a top-two regular season finish and – most importantly – that second chance option should they go down in the Semi Finals.
However, should Baulkham Hills lose they’ll be under pressure from Eastwood Ryde (4th) and St George District (5th); the latter who still harbour realistic dreams of finishing third as they trail fourth place by just one point.
Of the remaining Division 1 sides, Northern Suburbs are the only side with a mathematical hope of making a Finals appearance, but they would need to beat Minor Premiers Hunter United – and hope Eastwood Ryde and St George lose – to have any chance of progressing.
With a three point lead, Hills District have claimed the Minor Premiership with Blue Mountains (2nd) and Randwick (3rd) battling it out for second place, with just one point separating the two sides.
However, Blue Mountains have a tough ask on their hands as they meet the Minor Premiers this week, meaning a loss for them and a win for Randwick (who face sixth-placed Northern Suburbs) would relegate them down to third and in the dangerous hands of sudden-death Finals.
Campbelltown District currently sit fourth on the ladder – 10 points behind Randwick – but are only there on goal difference ahead of Baulkham Hills Shire. Which makes this weeks contest between the two all the more mouth-watering with the winner extending their season for another week.
Inner Western Suburbs have already been crowned regular-season champions, but there are two fascinating battles behind them which will be settled this week.
First is the battle for second place where Central Coast (2nd) lead Parramatta Auburn (3rd) by a single point. The former face Inner Western Suburbs in Round 18 with victory guaranteeing them second, while a loss could see Central Coast relinquish a top two finish if Parramatta Auburn can see off the challenge from seventh-place Camden & District.
Fourth-place Randwick will need a win over Manly Warringah to secure the final top four spot and keep fifth-placed Eastwood Ryde – who face Sutherland Shire this week – out of Finals contention.
Things are pretty straight forward in Division 4 with the 2017 Finalists already decided, and teams unable to move up (or down) the ladder win, lose or draw in Round 18.
Inner Western Suburbs have sewn up the Minor Premiership in this division too, leading by three points with one round to go ahead of Hunter United in second.
Liverpool City are three points further back in third with St George District (4th) the same margin behind again; however safe from the threat of Eastwood Ryde in fifth, who they play this week.
The penultimate division’s top four is also decided but Round 18 will determine the order in which they will finish. Inner Western Suburbs are on top here too, but only just with a two point-buffer ahead of Penrith District (2nd), Illawarra District (3rd) and Hawkesbury City (4th) who are all incredibly tied on 26 points.
The game of the round will be Inner Western’s clash with Penrith, in a contest that could decide the Minor Premiership. Meanwhile Illawarra and Hawkesbury will be out to pounce on any potential chances to leapfrog the top two in their clashes with Blacktown City (8th) and Bankstown City (5th), respectively.
The Minor Premiership is all but Camden & District’s with a win against Mount Druitt in the final round giving them the edge over Hills District, who sit one point behind in second place.
However, Hills must defeat North Suburbs (6th) to hold onto their top two finish (and second chance Finals opportunity) with third-placed Liverpool City snapping at their heels in third; Liverpool take on Baulkham Hills Shire (7th) this week as they push their Finals claims.
Campbelltown are currently sitting in the final Top Four spot, and will need to be at their best against Blue Mountains to make sure they keep ahead of Parramatta Auburn (one point behind in 5th) and Northern Suburbs (two points behind in 6th) to maintain their Finals chances.
Netball NSW would like to take this opportunity to thank DOOLEYS for their continued support of the Metro League in 2017.