City West Falcons switch it up to command a winning position

City West Falcons
Soli Ropati. Picture Mark Wilson

By Lance Jenkinson

City West Falcons are proving there is more than one way to skin a cat in the Victorian Netball League championship division.

Despite the disruption to the starting line-up caused by the beginning of the Australian Netball League competition, which sees a number of their stars step up to the next level, the Falcons just keep on winning.

The Falcons remain the hottest team in the competition, improving to 6-0 and a game clear on top with a comfortable 65-49 win over the Southern Saints at the State Netball and Hockey Centre on Wednesday night.

Falcons coach Marg Lind has thrown her line-ups around with good effect.

“Sometimes right up to the death knock, we don’t know who we’ve got playing,” she said.

“They [ANL teams] dictate to you how much load the players can take.”

Star goal shooter Jane Cook is unavailable for City West indefinitely as she continues her stint with Tasmania in the ANL.

It has opened up a spot for Tharjini Sivalingam, who impressed with 62-from-65 attempts for a return of 96 per cent.

Centre Molly Jovic’s connection to the Collingwood Magpies put her on a minute’s restriction against the Saints, so she was taken out of the game in the second half.

Soli Ropati switched from wing defence to centre to cover Jovic and not only filled her shoes admirably, but had a huge influence in City West turning a one-goal half-time lead into a 16-goal battering.

“Soli just played at a different pace, which is what they weren’t prepared for,” Lind said.

“She probably used a little bit more of stop and change up than Molly did, while Molly was more belting hard to the corners and they probably did their homework on that.

“Soli hung back a bit, let Maggie hit top, cut back towards the ball and put an extra pass in and seemed to just settle.

“Molly is great, but the opposition didn’t do their homework on Soli.

“It’s refreshing to know we’ve got a couple of good change-ups there.”

Anger Akec performed strongly at wing defence when Ropati moved to centre, while Imogen Sexton relished her time in defence.

It has been a long road to the VNL’s top flight for Sexton, who endured two ACL injuries in back-to-back seasons.

“We’ve been nursing her for 12 months, just trying to get her back into sport,” Lind said.

City West Falcons next test will be against Boroondara Express at the State Netball and Hockey Centre on Wednesday night at 9.40pm.