Millicent v South Gambier
Giving Millicent a head start is never a good idea and that is what South Gambier did in their round 11 Western Border Netball Association battle at McLaughlin Park on Saturday.
Trailing by nine at quarter time and 16 at the half, they rallied nicely in the second half and showed they are on the improve, winning the final 30 minutes to reduce the scoreboard damage to a 12-goal margin.
Missing Tabatha Sanderson, the Saints were able to substitute one tall shooter for another with state player Annelise Janssen taking the goal shooter bib.
The teenager was strong under the post in her battle with South’s Grace Edwards, while Demi Verbena stepped up her game, taking on more shooting responsibility and using her speed and creative genius to great effect.
In the opening half, the defensive unit of Georgia Clark, Hannah Nitschke and Port McRae were creating turnover ball by forcing the South frontline into errors, with too many rebounding opportunities also presented to the Saints circle defenders.
Looking after the ball and accurate finishing were a hallmark of the second half but the damage was done and with Janssen and Verbena converting 27 from 30 in the second half, the comfortable lead was never really in danger.
Lara Munro had a strong second half at shooter for South and her connection with Imogen Walker on the attacking wing and Alyssa Duncan at goal attack was strong, but Lisa Duldig and Paige Nitschke were equally safe with ball in hands getting the ball to Verbena and Janssen.
Clark continues to be important for the Saints on the defensive wing as she makes delivery into the circle tough, while Verbena showed true leadership in the absence of her usual shooting partner.
v Casterton Sandford
It was a tough sister act at the weekend for the Cats to try and overcome and it proved too difficult as the top ranked West Gambier recorded a huge win and continue to stamp their credentials as premiership favourite.
Defender Jade Ritter dominated the back of the court, creating turnovers at will and sister Sarah dominated the shooting circle for the Roos, especially the second half where she converted 30 from 34.
There was no weakness in their game with Lisa McGregor combining well with Sarah Ritter in the shooting circle and Amy Cram and Jade Ritter proving tough to pass in the defensive circle, while the hard running, young mid court of Zoe Malseed, Tara Bryant and Mikaela Horrigan looked after the ball and used speed and strong driving to turn defence quickly into polished offence.
The Cats did employ in form defender Tessa Marra to cover Sarah Ritter but the ball came down too often and too quickly for the circle defence to stop the scoring.
Generating scoring opportunities was tough for the Cats despite the relentless hard running from mid court partners Scarlett Jarrad and Maykala Hutchins, who never stopped presenting, with Jarrad also her usual tenacious best defensively.
West has been a scoring machine in recent weeks, scoring 70-plus the previous against South Gambier and hitting the 80 mark at the weekend as they look to continue to fine-tune ahead of the 2022 finals series.
East Gambier v North Gambier
East Gambier has resurrected its premiership defence in style, getting the better of ling time rival North Gambier with an eight-goal victory.
Putting their preferred starting seven out on court for the first time this season, the Bulldogs did the scoreboard damage in the second and third quarters, with the first and last being goal for goal contests.
Much of the credit must go to Emily Hunter and Tyne Bosko for the work the duo did making life hard for the North feeders and restricting the amount of ball that ended up in the hands of Caroline Wakefield and while the North shooter was still as accurate as ever, the opportunities were more limited and the scoreboard reflected that.
That being said, it was a stunning performance from youngster Macey Griffith, who stepped up her usual shooting output and her 22 from 29 showed composure and work rate beyond her years and ensured North remained in touch.
It was level at quarter time, before East secured a four-goal half time lead, extending it to eight by three quarter time before the even final quarter.
Bo Creek and Morgan Amy took advantage of the work from Tyne Bosko and Hunter to limit the Tigers scoring opportunities but it was at the other end, where East started to resemble a final contender for the first time in 2022 as Hunter and Tarsh McCallum worked hard to the circle’s edge to find Sarah Lock and Amryn Bosko in good shooting position.
Based on the amount of scoring opportunities the East shooting duo were afforded, the score line arguably could have been slightly more comfortable with some easy misses in the opening half, but they found their radar in the second half, netting 26 from 32 to ensure the lead remained in their favour.
Griffith was clearly the Tigers best, while defender Mel Renko was also critical with her ability to create turnover ball and her strong driving through the mid court to be a key player in transition.
The Tigers lost Zahra Crough early and had to reshuffle the line-up moving Lauran Norman to keeper and Ash Kalantarian into wing attack and then early in the second half, Brianna Walters was forced from the court with Libby Morgan taking the centre bib and Alice Tentye making her A Grade debut on the defensive wing.
East’s win has seen the Bulldogs sneak back into the top four with the next two weeks set to shape the top four as the three teams in contention – East, North and South play each other.