Saints and Tigers share points

MILLICENT V NORTH GAMBIER

North Gambier has battled player unavailability all season but its best was on display in a thrilling battle with Millicent in round 14 of the 2022 Western Border netball season.

The Tigers headed to McLaughlin Park to take on the Saints with their preferred starting seven for the first time in weeks to return home with a share of the points after they rallied from a three-quarter time deficit to force a draw.

The Tigers started strongly and led by two goals at the first break which sparked the Saints into action.

Lisa Duldig moved into the centre and Georgia Clarke to the defensive wing and the slick ball movement of Millicent was on full show with Tabatha Sanderson and Demi Verbena combining for 21 from 22 to turn the deficit into a three-goal lead.

The shooting was outstanding from Caroline Wakefield and Macey Griffith who shot a perfect 16 straight goals.

The arm-wrestle continued in the third as both sides looked to move the ball quickly and safely into the hands of their respective accurate shooting combinations and at the final change the home side held a five-goal buffer.

The Tigers were not done and from a defensive perspective it was their best quarter, denying easy ball movement and limiting scoring opportunities for the Saints while they continued to get the ball into the hands of Wakefield and Griffith at the other end, North continued to reduce the deficit and ended up with the 62-all draw.

There is no doubt the Tigers defensive combination of Mel Renko and Zahra Crough will test opposition shooters if North, as expected, forces its way back into the top four, while the connection between Ash Kalantarian on the attacking wing and Wakefield and Griffith continues to build. Kalantarian also looms as a key piece of the North puzzle going forward.

Millicent’s shooting combination of Sanderson and Verbena was again outstanding, while there was much to like about the defensive effort and if nothing else, the Saints will thrive on such a finals-like contest to further test their system and tactics.

WEST GAMBIER V EAST GAMBIER

East Gambier entered the round 14 Western Border netball clash with West Gambier in strong form and a preferred starting seven at its disposal so the reigning premiers would have been keen to test themselves against one of the benchmarks.

But the Roos were ready and they put in a strong opening half to ensure the Bulldogs were all too aware West was ready to break its premiership drought.

It was an 11-goal lead for West at the half and that blew out to 21 by the final whistle, with the third quarter the most dominant as the hosts won it 15-6 to put the result beyond doubt.

Jade Ritter and Amy Cram continue to loom as a tough defensive combination and to keep a side to six goals was impressive to say the least.

The story of the match was supply – West Gambier generated 74 opportunities and East only 53 with the accuracy battle won by the Roos as well.

Zoe Malseed had her best game for the season, making life tough for the East feeders, generating some important touches and also playing a role in transition with her strong drives and accurate passing.

The creativity of Lisa McGregor out front of Sarah Ritter was also critical in the comprehensive victory.

One of the match ups of the contest was West’s Tara Bryant and East’s Emily Hunter in the centre and it was intriguing as they ran hard, contested strongly and both played pivotal roles for their sides.

Both sides would have been happy with their defensive efforts – it was one of the lower scoring contests for the season – but West still found ways to score, while East has some work to do at the offensive end of the court and that will no doubt come as they keep their preferred combination on court for the final two minor rounds and then the finals.

CASTERTON SANDFORD V SOUTH GAMBIER

Astrong opening half ensured South Gambier took the points against Casterton Sandford to keep their slim finals hopes alive.

On the back of significantly more supply, the Demons were able to build a 15-goal half time lead and that was enough with the second half a much more even affair.

The underrated South mid court had a huge influence on the contest as Megan Reid and Tully McShane drove hard through the centre third and hit the circle hard, delivering with precision.

Ruby Richter also made the defensive wing her own with some critical turnover ball that ensured Lara Munro and Alyssa Duncan were given plenty of scoring opportunities.

The duo netted 33 from 42 in the opening half and were it not for the accuracy of the Cats shooting combination of Ivy Lane and Madalene Cleary, who converted 18 from 21, the half time scoreline could have been much worse.

The Cats owned the third quarter and reduced the 15-goal half time deficit to only seven at the last change.

Coach Jodie Humphries re-jigged the defensive line and efforts of the back three saw the Demons’ scoring opportunities diminish as Makayla Hutchins and Phoebe Carlin started to find the circle’s edge more easily, the score started to flow.

Lane was the main target and she netted 13 from 14 to ensure the Cats were still in the hunt going into the last.

But the South defence strongly responded into action and Richter, Ellie Bouchier and Mykaela Thiele denied easy access to the Cats shooters with better intensity.

Munro and Duncan also rewarded those efforts, converting 16 from 17 as South ended up with a 17-goal victory.

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