MILLICENT 73 d EAST GAMBIER 48
IT was Millicent’s trademark speed of ball that saw the reigning premiers dominate East Gambier in the opening quarter of their Western Border netball clash on Saturday.
Lisa Duldig – who returned after missing round one – Paige Nitschke, Demi Verbena and Donna Denton found easy connection and often took only three or four passes to find themselves in good shooting position.
It saw the Saints score 22 goals for the term, but to the Bulldogs credit they settled at both ends of the court in the closing minutes of the quarter to score 13 of their own.
Early in the quarter, it was not just the attack line dominating, but the defensive end, with Hayley Dunn, Madi Haggett and Hannah Nitschke shutting down time and space for the Bulldogs forward set up.
In the end though, through the hard running of Tarsh McCallum and the strong moves and accurate finishing of Tenille Gray, the Bulldogs, while still nine goals down, looked more composed.
It was a similar story in the second quarter, with the Saints again building on their lead to pressure the Bulldogs into error and then use speed and angles to easily find their shooters in scoring range.
But again, Gray worked hard high up the court as well as doing a mountain of work in the attacking third to eventually find herself in range and finish accurately.
Brittany Ross started to find her feet in the second quarter, working hard outside the circle and holding strongly, but East was unable to make any inroads and trailed by 18 at the main break.
Millicent swung the changes at the half, with Paige Nitschke moving back to goal shooter, Hannah Nitschke into centre, Duldig into wing defence and Lucy Denton entered the game at wing attack.
The reshuffle of the attacking end of the court saw the speed of ball slow, while East’s Morgan Amy and Sharna McKinnon started to work better as a duo to deny easy access to the circle.
Earning more ball for their team mates, combined with the strong transition work from Sarah Hurrell and McCallum, saw Gray only increase her output as she took some impressive aerial balls and continued to finish accurately.
Ross continued to up her work rate, while Sara Smith also started to find better connection with her shooters.
It saw East match the Saints, 15-15, as they forced more errors and looked after the ball better.
Unfortunately, the good work was somewhat undone in the final quarter as the young Saints attack line found better rhythm and Paige Nitschke and Verbena sank a number of long range shots to get the scoreboard ticking over again.
The 19-12 final quarter scoreline saw Millicent earn a 25-goal victory.
The Bulldogs have not had their preferred line-up available for either of the first two rounds, so consistency will take some time, while Millicent would be pleased to see how well their young players stood up.