Tough at the top

IN FRONT: East Gambier's Lisa Fyfe takes possession in the clear. Picture: FRANK MONGER



THE top-of-the-table Western Border netball Round 10 clash again went the way of the undefeated East Gambier, but the Saints did work their way a little closer.

Millicent welcomed Tabatha Sanderson back onto the court for the first time since these sides last clashed and Sanderson injured her hand.

Missing Tyne Bosko, the East Gambier wing defender still recovering from a collision with her East Gambier team mate Lisa Fyfe at the Country Championships, Kate Dempsey earned the starting role, with the more-experienced Chloe Perryman making her A Grade debut in the second half.

The opening quarter set the scene for a nail-biter, with East going into the first break leading by only one goal and Sanderson, having converted 12 from 12, looked set to perhaps be the difference.

The second quarter saw the Bulldogs earn more possession and with Tenille Gray working her way into the contest, netting 19 from 11, the lead was five at the main break.

Tarsh McCallum’s connection with her shooters – Amryn Bosko showing her usual composure converting 17 from 19 in the first half – was critical as she hit the circle’s edge hard and always chose the best option when looking to deliver ball into the goal circle.

Both sides swung the changes at the main break, Perryman entering the game at wing defence and Emily Hunter and McCallum swapping roles, with McCallum taking the centre bib.

Millicent also rejigged both its offensive line – Paige Nitschke moved into goal attack and Demi Verbena took her wing attack bib.

The third quarter was basically a goal-for-goal battle as both sides adjusted quickly to their new line-ups and little separated the two.

But the issue for the Saints was they were unable to eat into the deficit and went into the final quarter seven goals in arrears.

This time it was the defensive end that saw the changes, with Portia McRae entering the clash in goal keeper – another 17 and Under SA Championship winning player who was coming off a stellar grand final on the long weekend – and Hannah Nitschke moving out to goal defence, with Lisa Duldig moving from wing defence to centre, swapping roles with Lucy Denton.

Again the changes were quickly adjusted to and while Millicent were matching it with the top ranked Bulldogs, the Saints just could not find a way to win back enough ball to reduce East’s advantage.

In the end the final margin was eight – East maintaining its top of the ladder position and, arguably, more importantly, belief they are the 2021 benchmark, while the Saints will go back to the drawing board to make some more tweaks to their game plan ready for the next clash between the two powerhouse teams.


Nothing really separated West Gambier and North Gambier at the weekend, with the Tigers reversing the first round result, securing a three-goal victory.

It was always going to be a battle of supply, with both sides boasting the two most in-form shooters in the competition – Sarah Ritter (West) and Caroline Davey (North).

West led by three goals at the first break and five at the half, before the Tigers put in a massive third quarter, turning that half-time deficit into a three-goal lead.

It proved a decisive quarter as Davey netted 14 from 14, rewarding her team mates for their improved defensive efforts and while West worked their back in the final quarter, the 14-all scoreline ensured the Tigers left with the premiership points.

While Davey’s conversion was critical, the work out front by Ellen Brown was just as important as she used her pace to great effect, either drawing a defender with her front cut to open up the space at the post for Davey or delivering the ball herself with some creative and accurate feeds.

At the other end, Maddie Whaites made life tough for Sarah Ritter, who, while accurate in her finishing, arguably needed more ball to be as influential as Davey.

Ritter shot 13 straight in the opening quarter and netted 21 from 26 for the remainder of the contest, as Whaites worked some important touches but also hunted the ball outside the circle before the young Roos shooter could be a factor.

Lisa McGregor again stepped up her output in terms of goals, while Nikeisha Facey played her role on the defensive wing as she made life tough for the Tigers feeders, trying to deny easy access to the dangerous Davey.

The two teams have arguably not been more evenly matched in recent seasons and given they have another minor round clash to go and potentially a final, the stage is set to see who can tweak their game plan the best to gain an advantage.


There were times where Casterton Sandford dared to dream of providing 300-game star Scarlett Jarrad a victory on the day she celebrated the impressive milestone, but it was not to be.

South Gambier, who had travelled to Island Park, despite it being a South home game, was able to hold on.

The damage was done in the opening quarter where Grace Edwards and Lara Munro combined to convert 19 from 21 as the Cats struggled for supply, courtesy of some strong defensive work from Brandi Bouchier, Ellie Bouchier, Georgia Duncan and Renee Pluckhahn.

It saw the Demons nine goals clear at the first break and after that, the Cats continued to challenge, but just could not bridge the gap, going down by seven goals.

Goal defender Caeleigh Humphries, fresh from the 2021 South Australian Country Championships 17 and Under grand final and securing plenty of critical turnover ball, again was the key to the Cats’ resurgence after quarter time.

She hunted the Demons cross court balls and managed to be disruptive in the circle to get important touches that were mopped up by her young team mates, Ebany Jarrad and Claire Foster.

At times it looked like she just might single-handedly lift her team to a breakthrough victory.

The Cats won the second and third quarters but just could not make a big enough dent in the deficit, down by seven goals heading into the final quarter.

It was an arm wrestle in the last, with both teams earning a similar amount of possession and in the end, the Demons held on – the height of Edwards under the post proving too difficult to combat for the Cats.