Millicent continue hot streak, while Roos hold on in thriller

A Paige Nitschke, Riley Buckingham Dsc 3448  TBW Newsgroup
YOUNG STARS: Millicent's Paige Nitschke passes the ball forward under pressure from South Gambier's Riley Buckingham during round nine of Western Border netball on Saturday. Picture: JAMES MURPHY

A Paige Nitschke, Riley Buckingham Dsc 3448 TBW Newsgroup
YOUNG STARS: Millicent’s Paige Nitschke passes the ball forward under pressure from South Gambier’s Riley Buckingham during round nine of Western Border netball on Saturday.

West Gambier 38 d North Gambier 34

WEST Gambier made it two from two against North Gambier this season after Saturday’s round nine Western Border netball clash.

But the game was much tighter than the round four game, with the conditions not helping either side find any flow or rhythm in attack.

West opened the stronger of the two sides by sticking to a short game plan and moving the ball with care.

The Tigers placed plenty of physical pressure on the Roos, but did attract the wrath of the officials as a result, which allowed West to gain the upper hand and build a three-goal quarter time advantage.

The second quarter was even more of an arm wrestle and scoring proved challenging, with West winning the quarter 7-6 to take a four-goal lead into the main break.

The Tigers fought back in the third to tie the game up at the final change before West again found a way.

That came from the Roos’ defensive end of the court, which created plenty of turnover ball all match to finish with a four-goal win.

Amy Cram picked up where she left off the previous round, taking several interceptions and marshalling the troops at the defensive end to ensure the Tigers had no easy path to goal.

Carly Trevilyan also played a huge role as she and Emily Hunter made it hard for the North feeders to find easy access to the circle’s edge.

Maddy Teakle was back after a couple of weeks away and she had a tough battle with Alisha Bryan, who was her usual reliable self on the hold.

She combined well with Sarah Nulty, who again showed a strong work ethic and was a key in the third quarter comeback from the Tigers, netting nine goals for the term.

The contest in the middle between Hunter and Ash Kalantarian was the battle of the day, with both players among their side’s best thanks to their hard running and a commitment to defensive efforts.

With Carlee Ransom still sidelined for the Roos, Mikaela Horrigan again got the call up to wing attack and she stood up well in the tense final quarter with some well-timed drives and precise feeding.

The two coaches, Lisa McGregor and Noni McConnell, had a tough tussle, with McGregor doing her usual mountain of work and controlling the attacking goal third, while McConnell played her typical tight-checking game to ensure the Roos coach was always under pressure when receiving and delivering the ball.

Maddi Whaites had another strong game and it was only in the last quarter where Tahlia Earl was able to feel comfortable, holding strongly and finishing accurately when the game was on the line.

After hitting the court last week for a half, Caroline Davey warmed up, but probably erred on the side of caution given the less-than-ideal conditions for a player returning from a serious injury.

East Gambier 60 d Casterton Sandford 34

EAST Gambier was workmanlike in securing the points over Casterton Sandford in round nine of Western Border netball on Saturday, using safe ball movement and relentless defence to secure the 26-goal victory.

Jacinta Clark, Morgan Amy, Tyne Bosko and Tarsh McCallum played arguably their best match as a defensive unit, denying the Cats time and space, putting hands pressure over every pass and creating plenty of turnover ball.

Bosko was at her best, often getting a hand to the ball or a clean interception as she patrolled the defensive transverse line.

McCallum connected well with Tenille Gray and the Bulldogs ensured their dominance on court was reflected on the scoreboard.

A knock to the head for McCallum ended her day early and late in the third quarter she was replaced by Kate Dempsey.

It was Dempsey’s first A Grade outing and the youngster, who took the wing attack bib, with Sara Smith moving into the middle, showed great composure and a good work ethic.

The Cats had some good passages of play, but lacked consistency, with goaler Tori Perry continuing her good form of the past month and defender Marlee Gartlan getting some important touches.

Millicent 77 d South Gambier 38

MILLICENT may have won the day, but South Gambier has something to draw on after a tough Western Border netball fixture at McLaughlin Park on Saturday.

The Demons enjoyed one of the best halves of netball against Millicent for five seasons when they trailed by only 13 goals at half time.

The Saints started without star goaler Donna Denton, but the Demons looked slick in attack.

While they struggled to create turnover ball in the opening quarter, which saw the home side build an 11-goal advantage, in the second quarter the Demons matched it with the Saints to only go down 11-13.

Audine Bryant and Imogen Walker controlled the attacking end and connected well with each other.

The determined hard running from returning player Zoe Duncan helped her former team mates, who were struggling with player unavailability and injury, with the South attack line as fluent as it has been all season.

Saints’ defenders Hayley Dunn and Madi Haggett still put their usual pressure over the shot and won the rebounding duels, so missed scoring opportunities did result in turnovers.

Paige Nitschke started in goal shooter for the Saints and was prolific, scoring 14 in the opening quarter, before moving back to her usual role of wing attack after half time when Denton joined the contest.

She came onto the court to allow daughter Lucy, who had used her pace and creative feeding to great effect at wing attack in the opening half, to rest a troublesome knee.

Denton certainly had an impact in the third quarter, but it was the final quarter where she nailed 17 goals from 19 attempts and totally dominated the contest, to turn it from a competitive effort from South Gambier into a 39-goal win.

The promosing sign for the Demons was their ability to score, as they have often struggled to even hit 30 goals against the Saints in recent outings.

To have a more consistent output with eight, 11, eight, then 11 over the course of the match showed coach Felicity Walker, with the help of the injection of Audine Bryant into the on-court mix, looks set to reap rewards.

South defender Alyce Pearce-Raisin was in good form in the opening half, but the calf injury that kept her from the court in the previous round flared again and she was forced from the contest.

That left Riley Buckingham and Tori McIntyre to take on the circle defensive duties against the experienced Denton and Demi Verbena combination, while Abby McShane returned to the A Grade court and looked more comfortable on the defensive wing.

In the end the Saints still flexed their muscles and looked as impressive as ever.

Lisa Duldig was outstanding, running hard through the centre for three quarters before moving to the defensive wing in the final term to somewhat quell the influence of Audine Bryant, who was clearly the Demons’ best.

Lucy Denton’s first half was also impressive, while Verbena was as unassuming but effective as ever, netting 24 from 29.

Buckingham might have found taking on Donna Denton in the final quarter daunting, but she did create a couple of good turnovers by hunting for the interception high in the goal third.

Walker was outstanding, taking the ball strongly, working well with Bryant and also finding some important defensive touches.

In the end there were some small victories for the Demons, but the Saints still remain the competition benchmark with their young players and experienced heads performing to a high level.