Intriguing netball battles ahead

ROUND 2 PREVIEW

SOUTH GAMBIER V WEST GAMBIER

South Gambier had its moments against the reigning premiers in round one but will need to be switched on from the first whistle against a wounded West Gambier.

The Roos knew it would take a little bit of time for their new look line-up to gel but the sluggish start against East was jarring and West will be looking to show they will be a competitive team to face against all opposition.

There will still be no Tara Bryant in the mid court this weekend which takes some drive and speed out of the West mid court but Carlee Ransom showed she has not missed a beat since last being on court and her strong connection with goalers Lisa McGregor and Sarah Ritter will be critical in this clash.

Defensively the Roos have Amy Cram marshalling the troops alongside young guns Jade Ritter, whose height will be critical in this clash if South recruit Grace Edwards takes the goal shooter bib and Nikiesha Facey, who is tight marking and athletic.

South, much like Casterton Sandford, has been decimated by player losses for 2021 and will no doubt hope to be utilising some returning university students to inject some experience into the line-up.

Lara Munro will be pushing for a starting berth after a strong debut against the reigning premiers when injected into the contest at half time, while another new face, Renee Pluckhahn, showed her versatility with a strong performance in goal defence and some hard running in centre.

Edwards showed she will give South the height it has lacked in recent seasons, providing a focal point under the post in the shooting circle and creating some turnover ball at goal keeper.

Alyssa Duncan, the only remaining 2019 team member, also gives the line-up versatility, taking the attacking wing or a shooting role and Hannah Witherow, coming up against her former club, will bring her speed to the court.

West Gambier, even without Bryant, is a more settled line-up and their strong pre-season in practice matches was promising, giving them the edge in this contest and they should rebound from their round one loss with a win over the rebuilding Demons.

CASTERTON SANDFORD V MILLICENT

A tough ask for the Cats when they host the reigning premiers Millicent but also a great learning opportunity for the rising talent that is part of the Casterton Sandford line-up.

The Saints will take to the court without their three most experience premiership stars – the retired Donna Denton, Hayley Dunn and Lisa Duldig, who injured her calf in round one – but the bad news for the Cats is they will still face quality opposition.

Paige Nitschke and Demi Verbena bring speed of ball and creativity to the Saints frontline and their connection was strong in round one, while State representative Lucy Denton is also influential at both ends of the court.

Defensively the Saints are also in good shape with the return of Kimmi Tincknell (Varcoe) and the development of the tenacious Hannah Nitschke. The other challenge for the Cats will be the height of Tabatha Sanderson, who scored 38 of the Saints 57 goals at the weekend, with her strength at the post.

Casterton Sandford, facing the challenge of the loss of the vast majority of their 2019 A Grade line-up, are looking to develop the next generation of Cats, while placing some classy experienced players around them.

Coach Tori Broomby is the general of the attack line and her combination with the speed and smarts of Paige Murrell provides the Cats with some experience at the shooting end of the court, while Isobel Cleary was a clear stand out in the mid court and her work rate at both ends of the court will be critical in the battle with Denton.

Sharna Fidler battled hard against the strong holding Alisha Bryan at the weekend and if she gets the call up again will make Sanderson earn her possessions, while the height of Meg Fennell, who missed the opening round, would be of value in this contest.

Verbena and Paige Nitschke bring speed to the goal attack position, so young defender Caeleigh Humphries is a good match up with her agility and pace and it will be another great learning experience for the talented goal defence.

Scarlet Jarrad would be a welcome inclusion with her leadership, toughness and versatility and while there is little doubt the Saints take the points comfortably, the Cats will no doubt have their own goals to work towards.

NORTH GAMBIER V EAST GAMBIER

Two of the three convincing winners on the weekend will relish the first real test of the season as the Tigers host the Bulldogs in the match of the round. East was impressive in its clinical victory over West Gambier and the Tigers were also on fire against the Cats as they look to finalise their preferred line-up.

There are no weaknesses in the East line-up but the same can be said of North so the clash is tantalising and they are two teams who have a recent history of some tough and tense preliminary finals.

The return of Caroline Davey to the shooting circle is huge for the Tigers – she is smart, accurate and incredibly difficult to defend – while Brianna Walters is another returning Tiger that will add class to the mid court with her pace and smarts and reliability with ball in hand.

Maddie Whaites further cemented her reputation as one of the best defenders in the competition with a best on court performance in round one, while Mel Renko is always damaging whether in circle defence or the mid court. Another new face, Lauren Buddle, is another great pick up for the North mid court.

Of course East has influential recruits of its own, with Lisa Fyfe taking the goal defence bib, Bo Creek almost classed as a new recruit given she has been away from the court for a couple of seasons and coach Emily Hunter adding hard running and defensive intensity to the mid court.

Fyfe and Creek could well stake claim to the best defensive combination in the league and with Hunter and Tyne Bosko putting the pressure on in transition, East does not give up easy possession.

The attack line is also rock solid. Tenille Gray is the best player in the competition of the past two seasons and Amryn Bosko might be young but she is smart and, more importantly, composed, while the pace and creativity of Tarsh McCallum is even more dangerous on the attacking wing than it was in the centre.

With North still settling on the roles of a number of players, East is the more settled line-up and should remain undefeated.

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