Round 3 preview
SOUTH GAMBIER V NORTH GAMBIER
Anzac Day is a special day for the players of the two competing clubs but has also, in recent years, become a predictable day with the Tigers dominating the past few encounters.
They will again start warm favourites but South Gambier showed last weekend that it might be a new look, inexperienced line-up, but it has some tricks up its sleeve and this Anzac Day clash looms as one of the more competitive in recent history.
If Imogen Walker is still available she looms large as a key for the home side, while Lara Munro continues to impress, Brandi Bouchier is never beaten, Renee Pluckhahn has brought some tenacity and class to the line-up and Grace Edwards gives the Demons the height and versatility it has been missing in previous years.
For North, Noni McConnell is under an injury cloud after a pre-game warm up mishap with her calf, but there is so much depth at North – from Caroline Davey in the shooting circle, to defensive star Maddie Whaites to classy midcourter Mel Renko.
Both sides boast versatility and are clearly still experimenting with combinations. The experience advantage is with North but South, while coming off a loss, gained significant confidence from challenging West Gambier and also posting more than 50 goals.
It will come down to the start. If the Demons can stay with the Tigers for long enough, it will become a genuine fight but if, like in previous years, North gets off to a flier and dominates the scoreboard, it will be a long road back.
South coach Belinda Scanlon has a number of combinations at her disposal and pulling the right lever early will be key – the mix of experience and youth seems to be working despite the winless start to the season and reversing the recent Anzac Day trend would be just reward.
That being said, you add Jessie Little, Amanda O’Shaughnessy, Alycia Close, Ellen Brown and a host of other quality North players from the A and A Reserve squad that are still working across both grades and the Tigers should get the points but West can testify that it will not be easy and you cannot afford not to be at the top of your game to topple the Demons in 2021.
EAST GAMBIER V CASTERTON SANDFORD
The Cats have had a tough start to the season. An inexperienced line-up and some player unavailability in the early rounds has not made for easy going and it arguably gets tougher this weekend when they take on the undefeated Bulldogs who are looming as the competition benchmark in 2021.
Playing coach Tori Broomby, who has been a critical on court leader for some years, will be aware of the challenge and set her team its own goals as it looks to limit the scoreboard damage against the star studded East line-up.
It will be an incredible learning curve for the likes of Charlotte Rice, Madison Mutch, Claire Foster and Caeleigh Humphries and while it will be a tough day at the office, playing against quality opposition will teach them so much about life in the top grade. The leadership of Broomby, Paige Murrell and Meg Fennell will be critical to keeping the youngster in the contest.
East has run with the same seven in the opening two rounds and there are no weaknesses. Amryn Bosko is coming off a best on court performance, sister Tyne is in outstanding form on the defensive and Tarsh McCallum is ripping it to shreds at wing attack.
The defensive combination of Bo Creek and Lisa Fyfe are the queens of creating turnovers and Emily Hunter is as tough as they come through the middle of the court, while Tenille Gray has a resume unparalleled amongst current A Grade players.
East will win but the Cats will learn and while it will be a tough lesson, it will pay dividends as the season wears on.
WEST GAMBIER V MILLICENT
Millicent had a solid start in tough conditions against South in round one and then, undermanned, were too strong for Casterton Sandford. This weekend looms as their first challenge in 2021 and West Gambier will be all too aware it will need to improve on its round two performance against South.
A strong third quarter and come critical turnover ball generated by Jade Ritter and Amy Cram saved the Roos from an upset loss to the Demons but the good news was, when challenged, they rose to the challenge, despite not playing their best netball and still secured the win.
Lisa McGregor put in her usual work rate and leadeship, while Sarah Ritter grew across the contest and their combination and their connection with Carlee Ransom will be critical against a new look Saints defence line.
Hannah Nitschke has been in stellar form and Kimmi Tincknell should be back in the line-up. Both are tenacious close checking defenders who are also happy to hunt the interception. Ritter’s height and McGregor’s precise delivery will test the Saints defensive line that in the past has enjoyed the height of Hayley Dunn and Madi Haggett but fortunately for the Saints they have already tackled tall timber in round one and got the job done.
At the other end, Amy Cram leads the defensive line and she knows their challenge will be slowing down the speed of ball so typical of the Saints frontline. Lucy Denton, Paige Nitschke and Demi Verbena have shown they have great connection and the height of Tabatha Sanderson, who opened round two with 22 straight, will cause headaches for young defender Jade Ritter.
The young defender had to do a similar job at the weekend on South’s Grace Edwards and she created some good turnovers and she has matched up on Sanderson before so that limits the element of surprise.
Millicent will remain undefeated and still have some talented juniors including Portia McRae, Paige Lucas and Daisy Tunkin who can take an on court role and already have this season and Sophie Ellis adds further depth with her ability to take any on court role.