Millicent builds toward finals series

SOUTH GAMBIER V WEST GAMBIER

Despite missing key defender Jade Ritter, West Gambier was still able to easily account for South Gambier, securing a 33 goal victory.

 The Roos stamped their authority on the contest early and had an 11 goal quarter time lead.

 Sarah Ritter was a strong target under the post, while Lisa McGregor was also prolific in securing scoring opportunities as the West goalers found good connection with their mid-court, Carlee Ransom and Tara Bryant.

The Roos were able to play a long driving, fast style of play they love so much and while South defenders Brandi and Ellie Bouchier tried to diminish the scoreboard impact, the amount of ball the Roos enjoyed just made it impossible.

Mikaela Horrigan stepped into goal keeper and  the versatile talent showed she has strong defensive skills as well, despite normally patrolling  the mid court and she combined well with Amy  Cram, who had a strong four quarter performance that saw her the best player on the court.

 She put doubt in the South feeders minds and took a number of strong intercepts, both in tough one on one contests but also taking the risk of leaving her opponent and chasing ball elsewhere.

 

Cram and McGregor masterminded the victory with Cram ensuring the defensive end was a  well oiled machine that denied the Demons time and space and McGregor was the key outlet pass for the Roos and then she engineered the ball movement in the attacking third, also finishing strongly, netting 24 from 26 in the opening three quarters when the damage was done.

The battle in the middle between Bryant and  South captain Renee Pluckhahn was a great contest with both running hard offensively but also  getting some important defensive touches.

In the end though it was weight of supply – West generating 88 scoring opportunities to South’s 58.

Imi Walker was a key for the Demons with her strength on the take and ability to find space in  the shooting circle, while Brandi Bouchier created as much turnover ball as any goal keeper  taking on the height and skill of Sarah Ritter could hope for but in the end, the Roos had all the answers.

NORTH GAMBIER V EAST GAMBIER

I t was always going to be a tough, tight contest and it did not disappoint as North Gambier challenged East with the Bulldogs rising to that challenge and remaining undefeated in 2021.

As it has been in most matches this season, it was all about the start – with East getting the better of the opening quarter to set up a six goal quarter time lead.

Given no more than three goals separated the two teams in the remaining three quarter, that  stellar start proved pivotal.

Playing without Tarsh McCallum, who is set for a few weeks on the sideline, the Bulldogs started  with Kate Dempsey at wing attack and her composure and smarts always meant, she would certainly not be a liability, having already played in the  heat of battle in the 2019 finals series.

Tyne Bosko was back on court after a couple of weeks’ absence which was a bonus for the Bulldogs.

The opening quarter was all about supply with North generating 10 scoring opportunities, with East enjoying double that and were it not for a perfect eight from eight from Caroline Davey, that early advantage may have been even bigger.

Amryn Bosko was on fire for the Bulldogs, shaking off classy defender Maddie Whaites to net 10 of East’s 15 opening quarter goals.

In fact, the young shooter proved to be the focal point at times for the Bulldogs, given so much attention was on the always dangerous Tenille Gray.

It was a game that showed exactly how critical  Amryn Bosko is to this team because when opposition defenders throw everything at Gray and  stopping her influence, the teenager shooting sensation just keeps getting the job done.

 At the other end of the court, especially in the first quarter, Bo Creek and Lisa Fyfe were able to create enough turnover ball to give East the edge.

Creek and Davey have had some classic battles over the journey and this was another epic duel  with Creek keeping the dangerous shooter as quiet as any defender this season with her aerial skills and determination not to give the Tigers spearhead any easy ball.

That being said, Davey, along with the hard running Brianna Walters were North’s best.

Davey never stopped presenting and Walters not only works hard in the attacking third to always be an option, she also delivers the ball with precision and she also is unassuming in defence, often winning the ball back in the mid court.

Both sides will take something away from the clash.

North is getting closer and if they can tidy up the start will challenge further, while East has been challenged since an easy few opening rounds but continue to rise to those challenges and they have also worked through significant injuries, which is something team looking to go all the way so often have to do.

Border restrictions saw this round 8 clash cancelled and this weekend the Bulldogs will head to  Island Park to play that rescheduled fixture.

CASTERTON SANDFORD V MILLICENT 

While Millicent had way more of the ball in the first quarter, the Cats did their best to stay in touch with accurate finishing from Paige Murrell and Tori Broomby helping keep the scoreboard in check.

The Cats also had Tayla Guthrie on court again and while Millicent shooter Tabatha Sanderson shot 16 straight in the opening quarter, Guthrie continued to make life as tough as she could for the tall Saints goaler throughout the match.

Unfortunately for Casterton Sandford the eight goal quarter time deficit was 21 and as they did the previous week against South Gambier, the reigning premiers continued to pout the foot down and the final margin was a convincing 32 goals.

That being said, the third quarter saw the Cats really challenge Millicent.

IT was Guthrie’s best quarter, keeping Sanderson to only seven goals, while the home side only lost the quarter by three goals.

At the main break, Broomby and Murrell swapped shooting roles and it also seemed to make a difference as Zhane Crawford and Scarlett Jarrad started to find a way through the Millicent defence with Broomby and Murrell again finishing limited opportunities accurately.

Millicent regained control in the final quarter, although again, the accuracy from the Cats shooters was pivotal, netting 13 from 16.

 There is no doubt the Saints are building towards another finals series and  Sanderson’s form after returning from injury has been impressive, while at the defensive end, Hannah Nitschke, back on court after a  week sidelined by illness, showed her value as she created turnover ball with her tight checking defensive skills and willingness to contest everything.

 Murrell and her smart moves and creativity feeding was the best for the Cats  – her accurate finishing also critical – while Guthrie, who enjoyed a run out at goal defence in the final quarter, showed why the Cats would love to have her available every week.

CATS AND DOGS FACE OFF IN SOLITARY MATCH

The undefeated Bulldogs taking on the winless Cats is an easy clash to tip but both sides will have goals in mind when entering the clash.

 East Gambier started the season dominating every opponent but teams are starting to  challenge the Bulldogs and as they also face injury challenges, they will be looking to start fine tuning and working on back up tactical plans as the final rounds tick away.

For the Cats, the tough 2021 season might be short on highlights but they continue to improve.

They are scoring more than they were at the beginning of the season, They, too, have overcome significant injury and player unavailability challenges and they have blooded a raft of talented juniors who will only benefit from being tested at the highest level.

East wing defender Tyne Bosko, who returned to the court last weekend, will be looking to return to match fitness after around a month off, so the extra hit out, while the rest of the competition enjoys a bye, will  only benefit Bosko and the Bulldogs defensive unit.

 For the Cats, it is another opportunity for Zhane Crawford, who has taken ownership of the wing attack bib in recent weeks, to develop her game against the toughest of opposition.

She has started to really play with  confidence, hitting the circle hard and feeding the ball with accuracy and this weekend is  another chance to hone her craft against one of the best wing defenders going around.

Scarlett Jarrad and Emily Hunter going head to head in the centre will be a superb  tussle.

They are both tough, uncompromising competitors who do as much damage at  the defensive end of the court as they do in attack.

Young Cats defender Caeleigh Humphries will take another step in her education as  she takes on reigning association best & fairest Tenille Gray, while at the other end, Bo  Creek, who so often has to take on tall shooters, will have the challenge of the fast moving,  strong driving Paige Murrell in another of the intriguing match ups.

You cannot tip against an East victory but the Cats will have other benchmarks in mind.

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