West Gambier shakes off Casterton Sandford

UNDER PRESSURE: Casterton Sandford’s Gaby Tomkins looks for an option up the court despite relentless defensive pressure from West Gambier.

THE game between Casterton Sandford and West Gambier at Island Park was tight early in the recent round of Western Border netball before the Roos showed why they are in finals contention.

In the opening quarter the Cats were tenacious, despite still missing coach Steph Drogemuller and also star mid courter Natalie Rhook.

The absent players forced reshuffle, which saw Renae Newell taking the goal shooter bib – the same position she debuted the round before against North – and Jo MacDonald taking on goal keeper responsibilities.

Madalene Cleary took the less familiar role of centre as the Cats matched it with the Roos in the opening term, West leading by only one at the first change.

Despite the strong showing, Casterton Sandford made some positional changes at the first break, with Tori Perry moving to wing attack, Gaby Tomkins back to her more familiar role of centre and Cleary to goal attack.

The change of line-up combined with a vastly improved defensive effort right across the court from West saw the fourth placed Roos start to take control.

Nicole Butler and Amy Cram started to really shut down the space in the Cats forward line, creating a number of turnovers, while Olivia McEvoy and Carly Trevilyan were placing plenty of pressure on the outside of the circle, ensuring every feed was delivered under pressure.

The Roos also improved its ball control at the offensive end, making better decisions with ball in hand and delivering better balls to shooters Tahlia Earl and Lisa McGregor, who rewarded their team mates with some accurate finishing.

It saw West enjoying an 11-goal half time advantage.

Things went from bad to worse in the third quarter, with MacDonald forced from the court after a heavy fall with around five minutes to play.

That forced another reshuffle with Cleary heading back under the post and her sister Jade Cleary taking the goal attack bib.

It saw the Roos again really put the foot down with some strong defensive pressure and clinical transition and by the final change, the lead bad blown out to 23 goals.

Casterton Sandford again tried positional changes to stymie West’s momentum – Perry moved to goal attack, Madalene Cleary to goal defence, Abbey Shannon to goal keeper and Jade Cleary to the attacking wing.

The changes made little difference though, as Cram and Butler continued to make scoring tough, holding the cats to only 10 goals in the second half, while at the other end, Earl was finding good space and finishing accurately.

In the end, the margin was 32 goals with West doubling the Cats tally.

It was the Roos second consecutive four quarter performance and great preparation for this weekend’s clash with East Gambier.

Butler and Cram were back to their early season form in terms of denying teams time and space to find their shooters, while McGregor has also worked her way back to her best.

For the Cats, the hard running Tomkins and versatile Madalene Cleary were named best.