NSW M-League 2017 – Men’s Competition Regular Season Wrap
In what has so far been a fast and furious NSW M-league in 2017, the regular season has flown by and finished up. With a new look structure to this year’s competition where both the Men’s and Mixed competitions were split into 2 pools, every round has produced some excitingly close contests to ensure every team fought to be top 2 in each respective pool.
Keep reading below for a recap of the Mens Competition regular season and the semi-final previews.
|Pool A||Pool B|
|UTS Suns||Western Wolves|
|Pacific Fire||Sydney Uni-Varsity Griffins|
|Sydney Uni-Varsity Falcons||Rebels Netball|
|NSW Samoa||Pacific Flames|
A hotly contested Men’s competition this year has seen 4 time reigning champions UTS Sun’s again shining at the top of the table as Minor Premiers for season 2017. Despite a big change in personnel this season with three 2016 u23s Australian players taking a break from the game, the return of former Open’s Sonix and NSW stalwart Steven Philpot combining with former NSW Open’s player Brad Pigeon in the shooting circle, 2017 Open’s National Champions players Roger Quayle and Josh Byron terrorising in defence and promising u20s Australian representative Jack Edwards running the midcourt, has seen a dominant season so far for the boys in teal. They’ve cruised through winning 9 from 10 games, their only blemish coming in week 1, going down by 3 to a young but exciting Sydney Uni-Varsity Griffins outfit.
Pushing them every step of the way has been Pacific Fire who’ve finished 2nd in Pool A with 7 wins and 3 losses this season. An impressive line-up boasting NSW Open’s and New Zealand international Cameron Powell, NSW Open Mixed players Bradley Halton and Anthony Scoon, along with the recruitment of New Zealand international Matt Witere, has seen a strong and steady performance so far. The loss of NSW and former Australian Sonix Open’s Captain Valance Horne to a finger injury in the latter part of the season is a big blow to the Fire, however with so much experience available, we’re sure they’ll put on a blazing performance in their semi-final clash.
Finishing 3rd in pool A, the young side of Sydney Uni-Varsity Falcons saw them push some of the top teams the whole way with multiple games decided by less than 5 goals. With a line up consisting of mainly under age group players plus the experienced head of 2017 NSW Opens player Matt Porter, they’re an exciting team to keep an eye out for next season. And to round out the pool, it was great to see NSW Samoa enter the competition for the first time this year. With a team that that consisted of NSW Open’s players Patrick Piliae, Levi Talolua and Taylor Glassie, they were an exciting prospect. However injuries unfortunately plagued the team for most the season, but with so much new and experienced talent on offer to the side, we hope to see them return bigger and better next season!
In Pool B it was Western Wolves who claimed the top spot with a consistent performance of 8 wins and 2 losses. Those coming at the hands of fellow finals contenders UTS Suns and Sydney Uni-Varsity Griffins. With the likes of NSW Opens Paki Jensen and Liam Forcadilla running the midcourt, NSW veterans George Hirst and Reg Maynard switching between ends, while being well supported by up and coming juniors Taylor Fraser, Stephen Brice and Luke Sproats, coach Tysan Allen, (former NSW Open’s player returning from a major knee injury) has plenty of options to put on a howling contest in next week’s game.
Runners up from 2016, the Griffins on the other hand have had a roller coaster year which has seen them win 6 and lose 4 games this season. A new look line up after multiple experienced players moved clubs has seen them rewarded by faith in some up and coming players despite twice going down to their bogey team Rebels and a game each against finals bound Pacific Fire and Western Wolves. However, they are the only team to have beaten ladder toppers UTS Suns. With current Australian Sonix Adam Slattery leading the team alongside 2017 NSW Open’s champions Eugene Lee and Mitchell McBurnie, they’ve combined well with the likes of young guns Steven Ribaroski, Cooper Ellis and Julien Vincent to secure second spot in pool B.
Despite being in finals contention up until round 10, the Rebels were unable to get over the line with a strong finish to their season. First year in the Men’s competition from the club saw NSW Open’s level players Anton Stechiwskyj and Aidan Kelly lineup as the tallest shooting circle in this year’s competition while NSW Mixed Reserves Kris Leonard led through the midcourt with tall defender Shane Clark causing headaches for shooters down back. With plenty of talent on board, watch out for them to bring it next year. Last but not least the Teresa Tairi led Pacific Flames rounds out pool 2. Under the guidance of the NSW Open’s championship winning coach, although lacking the same super star power as some other teams, has built and grown throughout this season putting out some great performances. Keep an eye on them to grow even more in 2018.
With the regular rounds finished, we now turn our heads to finals action! Semi Finals are to be contested coming Sunday 5th November 7pm at Genea Netball Centre, Sydney Olympic Park followed by the big finale Sunday 12th November 7pm at Genea Netball Centre.
Semi Final 1: UTS Suns vs Sydney Uni-Varsity Griffins
A grand final rematch of last year with up to 7 NSW Open’s level players lining up on court between the two sides, there are bound to be exciting match ups all over the court in this game. Although the Suns are the in form team having won their last 9 matches, the Griffins are the only team to knock them off their perch this season. Look out for the aerial work of Josh Byron and Roger Quayle in the UTS defensive circle and for the Griffins it will be whether their attack end can fire and find their target shooters which may really impact this game. Will the Suns continue their golden run or will the Griffins prove to be their bogey side? Regardless of result this is going to be cracking game not to be missed.
Semi Final 2: Western Wolves vs Pacific Fire
It’s going to be flare vs speed when these two sides meet on Sunday. Just like semi-final 1, these two teams played each other all the back in round 1 and it was Western Wolves who came away winners by 10. However Pacific are a far different team and have come into some good form leading into finals. Look out for the ever accurate long bomb specialist Cameron Powell combing with Brad Halton to keep the Fire’s score board ticking over while in defence Matt Witere will be a menace with his long limbs and athleticism. However, will they be able to combat the speedy midcourt and tight marking defence of the Wolves? Find out on Sunday night when these two teams do battle on court.