By Ryan Long.
After a fairytale run through the finals series, the Jets made their first Grand Final since 2017. They fell short on the day, but the club did claim some silverware, taking home the Division Three Netball premiership.
Ladder Position: 4th (12-6, 122.61%)
Best and Fairest: Harry Isaacs
Leading Goalkicker: Bailey Stevens (50 goals)
A fairy tale finals run that fell just short of an unlikely premiership will please the Jets faithful, after a much improved 2023 season.
From the outside, there wasn’t much love for the maligned Jets who had a disappointing 2022 campaign, missing the finals. However, 2022 was a year where the club were never able to get their best side on the park with a string of injuries to key players.
Fast forward to this year, they were a lot more consistent on the field, even when missing some of their better players at certain times of the year. Scott Hamill took over as senior coach of the side, replacing outgoing coach Nick Rutley.
A 7-1 start to the year had everyone talking about Heathmont. A strong defensive outfit, Heathmont had not conceded more than ten goals in a game during the first eight rounds of the year.
Nathan Mullenger-Mchugh presented himself as a candidate for the league’s best and fairest with his dominance in the ruck.
The Jets hit a minor form slump ahead of the finals that caused them to drop to fourth, missing out on the double chance.
They played a red-hot Lions team in the Elimination Final, a game they controlled from the first bounce with a seven-goal opening quarter. The final result was a 47-point win, flexing their muscles with one of their highest scores of the season.
The ability to score quickly was shown a week later in a similar fashion when the Jets piled on 56 points to nothing in the first quarter of the semi-final against the Waverley Blues. An inspired 77-point winning performance was backed up by a triumph Preliminary Final win over the Dockers, coming back from a 19-point deficit. Fin Brown delivered with another four goals, still fresh from returning from injury just weeks prior.
A huge achievement to make a Grand Final after missing the finals in 2022. Coming into the decider, the Jets were labelled as the heavy underdogs against a Boronia outfit that had lost just one game for the season. A brave performance saw them lead by a point at Half Time, striking some early blows. Besides a 15-minute patch in the third term, it was a pretty even contest, the Hawks getting home by 32 points.
Jets fans would look back at the 2023 season fondly, a groundbreaking year for the club.
Nathan Mullenger-McHugh was massive in 2023, the equal runner-up of this year’s league Best and Fairest. The ruckman was incredibly influential across the season, even putting together an impressive Grand Final performance despite an ankle injury from the week prior.
Harry Isaacs took out the club’s best and fairest another strong year in defence, and another Team of the Year member.
Bailey Stevens was huge for the Jets up forward, the small forward finishing the season with 50 goals, one of the top five leading goal kickers in the division. With the likes of Fin Brown missing almost the entire season, it was Stevens that filled the hole. A hot start to the season saw Stevens kick 27 from his first six games.
Couldn’t leave out the skipper Jordan Haynes, can’t underestimate his leadership and performances on the field in 2023. Haynes finished the Grand Final as the highest-ranked Jets player on PremierData.
Best Win: Semi Final – Heathmont 17.18 120 def. Waverley Blues 5.13 43 @Walker Park
Hard one to pick when the senior side had quite a few impressive wins to pick from, but it’s difficult to go past their Semi-Final performance against the Waverley Blues.
The last time the two sides met in Round 15 of the Home and Away season, the Jets were trounced by 52 points. That became a 129-point turnaround when Heathmont won their semi-final clash by 77 points.
The game was well and truly over by Quarter Time, putting the Blues to the sword, 56 points to zip by quarter time.
Mullunger-McHugh was best on the ground with 28 disposals, 48 hitouts and finishing with a massive 205 Ranking Points on Premier Data.
Bit of movement at the moment with players coming in and out of the playing squad.
Two big inclusions to the Jets’ midfield, Dylan and James Feltham.
Both have a Premier Division background, coming across from Norwood. Dylan Feltham who’s already played over 70 senior games at Norwood will be huge for their midfield stocks, the leading disposal getter this season for the club. James Feltham can also be used through the middle or up forward.
The double chance will be a huge target for the club, who were forced to make the Grand Final via the long way, having to play three finals compared to Boronia’s one to qualify for it. Although it was a great run, they won’t want to be relying on needing to win four in a row to win it.
Ladder Position: 8th (0-14, 19.35%)
Best and Fairest: Millah Wright
Leading Goalkicker: Aimee Morrow (6 goals)
The Jets battled hard in the Division Two Senior Women’s competition this year.
Despite not winning a game this year, their performances on the field were a lot more competitive than what their record suggests.
In multiple games this season, they were able to hit the scoreboard and push strong opposition for four quarters. This included back-to-back games against East Burwood and the Waverley Blues.
One of the highlights of the season was when they ran out onto HE Parker in a pink design of the Jets jumper, in support of the BCNA Round.
A lot of learnings from the season will hopefully translate into some wins in 2024.
Millah Wright had a fantastic year at the club, finishing as the side’s best and fairest winner for the club. Wright was consistent throughout the year, a particularly strong end to the season saw her claim the B&F.
Aimee Morrow finished as the side’s leading goal kicker this season. Morrow had two big games in back-to-back weeks against East Burwood and the Waverley Blues, combining for five goals. It also happened to be two of Heathmont’s biggest scores of the season.
Brooke Mullenger was another star of the side, starting the season on fire, polling well in the club’s best and fairest award.
Player retention is a big key for the off-season.
It’s likely that the side will drop a division next year, giving them a better opportunity to be competitive for longer in games.
A Division Three premiership capped off a great season in the Bendigo Bank Netball Series for Heathmont.
The club had two teams competing in the third division, White and Yellow. Heathmont Yellow missed out on finals but still had an impressive seven wins for the year.
Heathmont White had a record of 16 and 1 in Division Three, their only loss coming against second placed Lilydale. The two teams met in the first week of the finals and then two weeks later in the Grand Final decider. On both occasions, it was all Jets, winning comfortably and taking home the Division Three Premiership.
Paige Hunter finished with 33 of the side’s 43 goals in the grand final, winning the Blue Ribbon Medal for best on court, also taking her overall tally to 338 goals. Topping it all off was a club best and fairest for Heathmont White, while Shae Bethune won the Heathmont Yellow best and fairest.
The Heathmont Jets top side competed in Division Two, winning four games for the season to finish in eight on the ladder. Taylah Barr was sensational in 2023, a club best and fairest while playing in Goal Shooter, with 290 goals from 15 games.
In Division Seven, Heathmont Blue was competitive across the year, winning six games, and finishing just a couple of games outside of a finals spot. Having a great season with the club was Leah Stemski, taking out the best and fairest.
The club have also entered the 2023/24 Summer competition, their top side competing in Division One.