MILLICENT V NORTH GAMBIER
Clearly the match of the round as the Tigers travel to McLaughin Park to take on the reigning premiers.
North would be hoping utility Noni McConnell recovers from a calf strain that had her sidelined on Anzac Day after injuring it in the round two warm up so they can put a full strength line-up out on court.
For Millicent it is another week of looking to stop supply to a tall shooter as Hannah Nitschke again looks to use her smarts and athleticism and the support down court of her team mates to combat Davey, who is a scoring machine for the Tigers.
Kimmi Tincknell will look to find the balance between close checking on Alycia Close while also providing some help defence to Nitschke and Lisa Duldig will be looking to replicate her efforts in round three by piling pressure on the Tigers’ feeders.
The battle in the middle between Lucy Denton and Brianna Walters will be fascinating. Both players can run all day and like to impact the contest at both ends of the court and both are the key feeders for their respective sides.
To take on the shooting combination of Tabatha Sanderson and Demi Verbena, North will no doubt look to Maddie Whaites and Mel Renko to provide a similarly smothering performance as they did on Anzac Day and coach Karen Gould also has Jessie Little and McConnell to take a defensive role if she wants Renko back in the mid court.
The Saints also have options with Paige Nitschke deceptively influential at wing attack but also able to head into the shooting circle and Denton could also fill a shooting role, while Millicent has already blooded a raft of young talent that can step on court if required.
Much like Millicent’s round three contest, the weekend looms as a tight affair with the Saints just getting the edge when it counts.
EAST GAMBIER V SOUTH GAMBIER
The Bulldogs might be without star id courter Tarsh McCallum this weekend but with Kate Dempsey ready to move seamlessly into the position – a role she played in the 2019 finals campaign for East – it is hard to see how South will be able to challenge the imperious East line-up.
Amryn Bosko and Tenille Gray have been unstoppable in goals, while at the other end Bo Creek and Lisa Fyfe continue to stifle opposition teams and with the help of Tyne Bosko and Emily Hunter, continue to limit the scoring opportunities for all opposition.
Hunter is a dominant mid courter and is coming off a stellar round three performance, while Dempsey is hard working and reliable. And while the East line-up is as settled as any in the competition, South, rivalled only by Casterton Sandford, is the least settled as coach Belinda Scanlon looks to blood young talent and inject experience from the club’s departed university students.
The form of Lara Munro in goals has been a positive of the tough start to 2021, while the height of Grace Edwards has given the Demons a target.
Alyssa Duncan continues to work into her role at wing attack and delivers the ball with accuracy, while Hannah Witherow is a hard running mid courter who never gives up and defensively Brandi Bouchier and Renee Pluckhahn are forming a good understanding and while they will not have to tackle another tall holding goaler, they have the unenviable task of restricting the scoring opportunities of the most prolific scoring shooting combination of the first three rounds.
There is no case that can be mounted for the Demons to conjure an upset but it will be a great learning curve for the inexperienced line-up to take on the competition benchmark and look to develop and improve their own games.
CASTERTON SANDFORD V WEST GAMBIER
The Cats will host the Roos at the weekend and will be looking to put in an improved performance after experiencing what East is putting out in season 2021.
West might be coming off a loss but they gained some confidence from having their preferred line-up and the challenge they posed to the reigning premiers.
The defensive duo of Amy Cram and Jade Ritter continue to gel as a combination and they will need to work together again as experienced campaigner Tori Broomby looks to marshall the troops in the attacking goal third to try and ensure the Cats make the most of every scoring opportunity.
Scarlett Jarrad also looms large through the mid court given her ability to influence a contest as an attacker and as a tight checking defender, while Caeleigh Humphries, who is a rising star of the competition will face another huge challenge when she takes on Lisa McGregor, hot on the heels of her battle with Tenille Gray, but the young defender would have already taken some lessons from that encounter and will certainly make McGregor earn every possession.
Ongoing injury concerns for Meg Fennell have not made life easy for the Cats as the star defender turned mid courter has had to battle those issues but she has been critical as an on court leader and the Cats will be hopeful she can exert her influence again.
Carlee Ransom and Tara Bryant will be better for the run together last weekend and the Cats will need to try and deny them easy access to the goal circle if they do not want shooter Sarah Ritter to dominate, with the 17 & Under State squad member not just looking to take shots from under the post but happy to tackle the long range attempts as well.
West should rack up win number two for the season, while the learning curve for the inexperienced Cats continues.