Millicent secured the premiership points as expected on the weekend when they hosted Casterton Sandford in the seventh round of Western Border netball.
While the Cats still suffered from a lack of scoring opportunities, courtesy to the relentless defensive pressure from the Saints, the accuracy from the Victorians shooting stocks was much improved.
The match also saw the debut of Ivy Lane in the second half in goals and while her opportunities to score were rare, she finished with six from nine in a promising A Grade debut.
Madalene Cleary was again the mainstay of the attacking line and at goal attack she set up the play and finished accurately, while at the other end, Caeleigh Humphries continues to anchor the defence, getting important touches to disrupt the always slick Saints frontline.
The visitors tinkered with their mid court this weekend, trying to find the best roles for Tessa Marra, Ebany Jarrad and Gaby Tomkins, with Marra spending the second half back on the defensive wing where she has been so consistent and damaging in her debut season as a Cat.
The interesting things from the weekend’s scoresheet for Millicent was the more shared shooting responsibilities of Tabatha Sanderson and Demi Verbena.
The height of Sanderson so often sees her dominating the scoring attempts and she certainly again netted her fair share, but Verbena took a lot more shots and her 25 from 30 was a high return and an accurate one.
Georgia Clarke played her first full game in the centre and influenced the match at both ends of the court, while the young back three of Portia McRae, Hannah Nitschke and Kayleigh Taylor denied the Cats time and space at every opportunity and created plenty of turnover ball.
EAST GAMBIER V SOUTH GAMBIER
It was a goal for goal contest in round two and it followed the same script in Saturday’s rematch between East and South Gambier.
A low scoring contest compared with the other two matches of the round, every goal was hard earned as both teams applied relentless defensive pressure all over the court, creating turnovers and forcing teams into error with ball in hand.
Missing Sarah Lock, with that troublesome calf, the Bulldogs slotted Casey Horrigan into the goal attack role and in the opening quarter the combination of Horrigan and Amryn Bosko looked composed, netting 12 from 17, to enjoy a two-goal quarter time lead.
The arm wrestle continued in the second term with Bosko looming as a scoring threat with nine from 11, while the South shooting duo of Alyssa Duncan and Lara Munro netted 13 from 15 as a combination as the half time lead sat at one for the home side.
The Demons tweaked their mid court at the main break, bringing on the fresh legs of Ruby Richter to try and quell the influence of Tarsh McCallum, who was showing her skill in working in small spaces, utilising her speed to find good feeding position and deliver accurately to Bosko, while Imogen Walker and Mega Reid swapped bibs, tag teaming the job of denying star Bulldog centre Emily Hunter too much ball.
It proved a masterstroke and with Munro netting nine from nine and Duncan five from six, the Demons ensured their dominance for the quarter, courtesy of some wonderful defensive gains by Grace Edwards and Ellie Bouchier, was reflected on the scoreboard and they enjoyed a five goal three quarter time lead.
The frenetic final quarter saw plenty of errors and turnover ball and the shooting accuracy, particularly for the Bulldogs, dropped away, but unlike in round two when South coughed up a lead and East was able to take the points, this time they held on for a 45-39 victory.
Edwards and Bouchier dominated the rebounding stats and were able to keep winning the ball back for the Demons, especially in the dying minutes of the match, while Bo Creek never stopped finding a way to disrupt the Demons frontline with her aerial skills and willingness to just get a touch and chase up the loose ball.
WEST GAMBIER V NORTH GAMBIER
It loomed as an arm wrestle and for the most part it was as North Gambier travelled to Malseed Park to try and put a dent in the Roos 2022 campaign.
It was expected to be a battle of the goaling combinations and the ability of each team to deny the star shooting duos too much ball and that was exactly how it panned out.
North enjoyed a two-goal quarter time lead, West made it a five-goal buffer at the half and at three quarter time that had been cut to two.
Enter the Roos defensive line, with Amy Cram and Jade Ritter creating plenty of turnover ball to make life difficult for the Tigers.
While still maintaining their own level of scoring, and in the end, they won that final quarter by 10 and took the points with a 71-59 victory.
As expected, Sarah Ritter and Caroline Wakefield were the focal points – Ritter netting 49 from 62, with Wakefield converting 39 from 43.
Both goal attacks were also important, with their ability to making space and deliver the ball to their shooting partners, while also taking the shots on offer and finishing so not surprisingly Lisa McGregor and Macey Griffith were both in their respective side’s best.
In the end, the match came down to that dominant final quarter by the Roos where they generated 26 scoring shots to 10 and were able to run away with the win after a tight three quarters.
Ritter continues to be thorn in opposition team’s side and North tried both Zahra Crough-Heaton and Lauran Norman on her over the course of the match to try and find a way of limiting her influence.