Saints dig deep to continue streak

CLOSE WIN: Millicent’s Kimmi Varcoe would be pleased with the Saints’ ability to come from behind against North Gambier in Round 10 of Western Border netball on Saturday.

DESPITE being challenged Western Border netball reigning premiers Millicent again dug deep against North Gambier to remain undefeated.

North led by two at quarter time and the same margin at the long break, before Millicent snatched a one-goal three-quarter-time lead.

However, the Saints were able to finish stronger to win by eight.

The Saints got a taste of their own medicine in the opening half as the Tigers relentless defensive pressure saw the Millicent forward line making some uncharacteristic errors.

Lisa Fyfe took a number of her trademark interceptions and the North mid court transitioned strongly to find Caroline Davey in space, and the tall shooter did not disappoint with her accuracy.

Ellie Gould was again influential early with her strong drives at goal attack, making the baseline her own and also using the front cut to great effect.

The script followed a similar line in the second quarter although in the dying minutes of the first half, Millicent did being to find Donna Denton in the back space and the Saints started to find some rhythm in offense, remaining two goals behind at the main change.

Both sides made changes to try and gain the upper-hand.

Millicent moved Audine Bryant to centre and Lisa Duldig to the attacking wing after yet another outstanding half of netball from Mel Renko on the defensive wing, while the Tigers moved Fyfe back to keeper in a bid to curb what was the growing influence of Denton.

Not surprisingly, the North front-line remained the same after Amanda O’Shaughnessy and Kaitlin Smith had found good space in the first half and their delivery to both Gould and Davey had been pinpoint.

The biggest change in the third quarter was Millicent stepping up its defensive pressure, with young wing defender Madi Turner leading the way with her ability to get a hand on the ball and her impressive elevation cutting off many of the Tigers efforts to find the edge of the circle.

Turner’s efforts and tighter checking and stronger contesting from Kimmi Varcoe started to see the ball movement from the Tigers slowed down considerably and it suddenly became much harder for them to find Davey so easily in space.

At the other end, Bryant started to find better connection with Denton, while Keah Lynch, who again had a solid game at goal attack, continued to work hard to draw attention and open up the space for her star shooting partner.

Denton and Lynch played a strong moving game in this quarter, making it hard her for the Tigers to shut down space and Denton’s work rate was rewarded with a high volume of shots, leading the reigning champions to a narrow one-goal advantage going into the last.

The scene was set for a tense final quarter but Turner had other ideas and the young wing defender almost single-handedly turned the game in the Millicent’s favour – a feat even more impressive given she is the youngest and only player in the line-up not to have experienced A Grade premiership success.

The youngster created around five critical turnovers and with Denton in outstanding shooting form, each one of those was reflected in the scoreboard.

Davey certainly played her part to keep the Tigers in the contest, converting at 100pc accuracy in the final but her supply was limited as Turner inspired her team mates to dig even deeper defensively.

Once Millicent seemed to gain the edge defensively, it seemed to open up the offensive end as well and the Saints started to utilise their quick ball movement to score more quickly, winning the quarter by seven goals, to secure an eight goal victory.

The margin arguably does not reflect what an arm wrestle the contest was with both team no doubt gaining plenty from the final like match as the competition heads into the final six games of the season.