Damaging opener sets up East victory

SOUTH GAMBIER V WEST GAMBIER

It was a much more promising performance from South Gambier but West Gambier still found a way with its experienced campaigners Lisa McGregor and Amy Cram leading their young team mates through the challenge to secure a 10-goal victory.

Brandi Bouchier and Renee Pluckhahn ensured there was no time, space or easy ball for McGregor and her young shooting partner Sarah Ritter, while at the other end of the court, Imogen Walker provided incredible drive and accurate feeding at wing attack as the height of Grace Edwards and the slick moves and accurate finishing of youngster Lara Munro made sure the time in possession was rewarded on the scoreboard.

Zoe Malseed made her A Grade debut at centre for West, scrapping hard at the defensive end of the court and driving hard onto the circle. The defensive duo of Cram and Jade Ritter were key in the opening half for West, getting important touches but arguably more importantly organising the defensive goal third to try and shut down the free flowing Demons.

Both sides shuffled the sides The Roos shuffled the line up at the main break, bringing experienced recruit Hannah Fisher into the wing defence role and moving Mikaela Horrigan into centre, with South also making changes with Edwards moving to goal keeper, just as she did the previous week, with Hannah Witherow moving from centre to attacking, with Olivia Patzel debuting in the centre for her new club.

The goal circle also saw a shift with Walker moving to shooter to team with Munro and in a special moment, Ellie Bouchier made her A Grade debut at wing defence and in the final quarter when her mother Brandi re-entered the contest it was a first time for the mother-daughter to play side-by-side.

While none of West’s moves seemed to significantly impact the match, the Roos dominated the third quarter. McGregor got off the leash after Pluckhahn had made life tough for her in the first half and while Edwards still took some strong interceptions and rebounds, Sarah Ritter did seem to start to find her mojo.

Horrigan’s athleticism through the middle of the court started to have an impact, while Jade Ritter and Cram were able to create more turnover ball than they had in the entire first half and more rebounding opportunities resulted.

By the final change, West had established a 14 goal buffer and the result looked set. Coach Belinda Scanlon took the wing attack bib for South, injecting fresh legs into the contest and Brandi Bouchier returned to the court to goal defence and the added experienced seemed to refocus the young Demons who won the final quarter, reducing the deficit to eight goals before having to settle for a 10 goal loss.

West would be pleased with the premiership points and the ability to respond to what was somewhat of an unexpected challenge, while South matched it with a perennial finalist and scored 52 goals – a tally rarely reached in recent seasons.

NORTH GAMBIER V EAST GAMBIER

East Gambier has continued on its merry way with another comprehensive performance, set up again by an explosive start, leading 16-4 at quarter time for the second time in consecutive weeks and then not allowing the opposition a way back into the contest.

It was a case of lack of supply for North Gambier in the damaging opening quarter with East creating 24 scoring shots to the Tigers’ six. Losing the experience and versatility of Noni McConnell in the warm up when the key Tiger injured her calf turned out to be an omen for North in a day that went from bad to worse.

North did somewhat rectify its supply issue in the second with a more even performance but with young shooter Amryn Bosko netting eight from nine and Tenille Gray converting nine from 11, East only extended their advantage which was 19 by the main break.

If North was going to conjure a comeback to put some respectability into the scoreboard, the third quarter put paid to that as this relentless Bulldogs outfit continued to pile on the pain.

It was all about weight of possession again with the Bulldogs converting 19 from 21 while North converted accurately with only one miss for the quarter, unfortunately it was from only seven opportunities.

The final quarter was the Tigers’ best with Jessie Little moving to the defensive wing and new recruit Maddie Stegmyer taking the goal keeper bib and in the end they lost the quarter by only two goals.

Tarsh McCallum was outstanding for East, doing just the kind of damage everyone expected with her return in season 2021 to the attacking wing. Her pace, ability to work in small spaces and reliability with ball in hand was on full display as she continually connected with Amryn Bosko and Gray.

The battle in the middle of the court was as outstanding as pregame predictions suggested with Mel Renko and Emily Hunter going head to head. Both worked hard and Renko was an important leader on court for the Tigers, especially when East was creating almost one way traffic.

Young gun Ellen Brown also ran hard all day and tried to use her pace and smarts to give her team mates a strong outlet. Her delivery to returning goal shooter Caroline Davey was also precise when the opportunity arose.

The scary thing for opposition teams is the new shooting combination for the Bulldogs is super dangerous. Gray, as the two time reigning association best and fairest has a resume everyone is familiar with and now she has a shooting partner who is producing the same volume of goals in rising talent Amryn Bosko. The youngster netted 33 of East’s 67 goals and only had a handful of misses and her trademark composure continues to impress.

CASTERTON SANDFORD V MILLICENT

Casterton Sandford’s goaling combination started their tough clash with reigning premiers Millicent having to work hard for any possession but coach Tori Broomby and Paige Murrell made the most of every opportunity – shooting seven from seven.

The problem was at the other end, the speed of ball from Demi Verbena, Lucy Denton and Paige Nitschke into the height of Tabatha Sanderson was impressive and accurate and Sanderson rewarded her team mates converting 22 from 22 in a stunning opening quarter.

The Cats swung the changes at the first break and the move of Meg Fennell into the centre to give the team a smart head and strong driving certainly made a difference and when she spent the second half at wing attack, her feeding into the circle was precise.

It was always going to be a tough outing for the inexperience Cats, but they grew across the game and the third quarter, where Murrell and Broomby again combined for a strong shooting performance, netting 13 from 14.

At the defensive end things improved in the second half as well, with Caeleigh Humphries continuing to develop as she tests herself against the best goal attacks in the business, with Sharna Fidler entering the clash and providing her usual high standard of tight checking and ensuring her opponent had no easy ball.

But the bottom line is, Sanderson does not get shorter as the match continues and as she did in round one, she shot 65 of the Saints’ 87 goals. Millicent took the opportunity to blood emerging defender Portia McRae who made her presence felt in goal keeper in the first half, while Sophie Ellis backed up from her A Reserve outing in goals to play wing defence and then goal keeper to be part of the makeshift defensive line that was missing Kimmi Tincknell.

Hannah Nitschke might only be two round into a season where she looks to be permanently playing circle defence but she has shown she has learnt her craft well from Hayley Dunn and is up to the challenge with two outstanding performances.

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