CASTERTON SANDFORD V SOUTH GAMBIER
There were times where the Cats dared to dream of providing 300 game star Scarlett Jarrad a victory on the day she celebrated the impressive milestone but it was not to be as South Gambier, who had travelled to Island Park, despite it being a South home game, were able to hold on.
The damage was done in the opening quarter where Grace Edwards and Lara Munro combined to convert 19 from 21 as the Cats struggled for supply, courtesy of some strong defensive work from Brandi Bouchier, Ellie Bouchier, Georgia Duncan and Renee Pluckhahn.
It saw the Demons nine goals clear at the first break and after the Cats continued to challenge but just could not bridge the gap, going down by seven goals.
Goal defender Caeleigh Humphries, fresh from coming on in the second half of the 2021 South Australian Country Championships 17 & Under grand final and securing plenty of critical turnover ball, again was the key to the Cats’ resurgence after quarter time.
She hunted the Demons’ cross court balls and managed to be disruptive in the circle to get important touches that were mopped up by her young teammates, Ebany Jarrad and Claire Foster and at times it looked like she would lift her team to a breakthrough victory.
The Cats won the second and third quarters but could not make a big enough dent in the deficit to put pressure on the Demons.
Heading into the final quarter it was a seven-goal deficit.
In the end, the Demons held on, with the height of Edwards under the post proving too difficult to combat for the Cats.
Tori Broomby was the general of the attack line and playing on both the attacking wing and in the shooting circle, she worked hard with Paige Murrell, Charlotte Rice and Scarlett Jarrad to make the most of every scoring opportunity.
Her pinpoint delivery and accurate finishing on the shot proved critical from the coach as she kept her side in touch after a lacklustre opening quarter.
WEST GAMBIER V NORTH GAMBIER
Hardly anything separated West Gambier and North Gambier at the weekend, with the Tigers reversing the first-round result, securing a three-goal victory.
Both sides boasted the two most inform shooters in the competition, Sarah Ritter (West) and Caroline Davey (North).
West led by three goals at the first break and five at the half, before the Tigers put in a massive third quarter, turning that half time deficit into a three-goal lead.
It proved a decisive quarter as Davey netted 14 from 14, rewarding her teammates for their improved defensive efforts and while West worked their back in the final quarter, the 14-14 score ensured the Tigers left with the premiership points.
While Davey’s conversion was critical, the work at the front by Ellen Brown was also critical as she used her pace to great effect, either drawing a defender with her front cut to open up the space at the post for Davey or delivering the ball herself with some creative and accurate feeds.
At the other end, Maddie Whaites made life tough for Sarah Ritter.
While accurate in her finishing, Ritter arguably needed more ball to be as influential as Davey.
Ritter shot 13 straight in the opening quarter and netted 21 from 26 for the remainder of the contest as Whaites worked important touches.
Lisa McGregor again stepped up her output in terms of goals, while Nikeisha Facey played her role on the defensive wing as she made life tough for the Tigers’ feeders, trying to deny easy access to the dangerous Davey.
The two teams have arguably not been more evenly matched in recent seasons and given they have another minor round clash to go and potentially a final, the stage is set to see who can tweak their game plan the best to gain an advantage.
MILLICENT V EAST GAMBIER
The top of the table clash between Millicent and East Gambier again went the way of undefeated East Gambier.
The Saints welcomed Tabatha Sanderson back for the first time since these sides last clashed, when she injured her hand.
Missing Tyne Bosko, who was still recovering from a collision with her East Gambier teammate Lisa Fyfe at the June Long Weekend Country Championships, Kate Dempsey earned the starting role, with the more experienced Chloe Perryman making her A Grade debut in the second half.
The opening quarter saw East go into the first break leading by only one goal and Sanderson, having converted 12 from 12, looked set to perhaps be the difference.
The second quarter saw the Bulldogs earn more possession and with Tenille Gray working her way into the contest, netting 19 from 11, the lead was five at the main break.
Tarsh McCallum’s connection with her shooters, with Amryn Bosko showing her usual composure converting 17 from 19 in the first half, was critical as she hit the circle’s edge hard and always chose the best option when looking to deliver the ball to the goal circle.
Both sides swung the changes at the main break, with Perryman entering the game at wing defence and Emily Hunter and McCallum swapping roles, while McCallum took the centre bib.
Millicent also rejigged its offensive line as Paige Nitschke moved into goal attack and Demi Verbena took her wing attack bib.
The third quarter was a goal for goal battle as both sides adjusted quickly to their new line-ups and little separated the two.
But the issue for the Saints was their inability to eat into the deficit, going into the final quarter seven goals in arrears.
This time it was the defensive end that saw the changes with Portia McRae entering the clash in goalkeeper – another 17 & Under SA Championship winning player who was coming off a stellar grand final on the long weekend – and Hannah Nitschke moving out to goal defence.
Lisa Duldig moved from wing defence to centre, swapping roles with Lucy Denton.
The changes were quickly adjusted to and while Millicent were matching it with the top ranked Bulldogs, the Saints could not find a way to win enough possession to reduce East’s advantage.
In the end the final margin was eight, with East maintaining its top of the ladder position.