CASTERTON SANDFORD 50 d SOUTH GAMBIER 49
IT was a case of what could have been for South Gambier when it hosted Casterton Sandford in Round 11 of Western Border netball on the weekend.
At the final whistle the Cats claimed a slender one-goal victory, their second win for the season.
The result went down to the wire and it was the Demons who looked the goods early on, but the Cats soon clawed their way back and a tough battle ensued.
South came out of the blocks firing to create turnovers at will and use quick ball movement in attack to pile on the goals, taking a 17-8 lead into the first change.
Audine Bryant was running riot on the attacking wing, Tara Bryant delivered some accurate feeds and Alyssa Duncan and Imogen Walker were combing well as a shooting combination, converting 17 from 19 between them to ensure the home side was in control.
But the Cats reacted swiftly as they moved Madalene Cleary from centre to goal defence, Sharna Fidler from goal defence to the defensive wing and Scarlett Jarrad into the middle.
The changes reaped immediate rewards and by half time the match was back on a knife’s edge with the home side only three goals clear.
Christine Harris was the shooter hitting the scoreboard, converting 13 from 16 for the second quarter, while Tori Perry worked as hard outside the circle as she did making space for Harris inside.
The Demons lost Duncan in the second quarter to an ankle injury and brought Jess Earle into the shooter role, where she proved a strong target for the rest of the match, netting 18 from 19 in the tense second half.
With scores locked at 38 apiece at the final change, South looked to find an edge by moving Riley Buckingham into the goal defence role and Tori McIntyre out to wing defence.
In the nail-biting final quarter, both teams earned two-goal buffers at different times but in the end the Cats earned the advantage at the right time, moving to a three-goal lead with a couple of minutes to play and holding on for a one-goal win when the timer beat the Demons in their bid to at least draw the contest.
Perry was the hardest working of the Cats, while Cleary is clearly needed in the defensive circle and helped turn the game.
Jarrad, who has such a fine reputation as a wing defender, showed her strength on the drive was critical in bringing some better connection to the attack line, while Harris’ accuracy on the finish – 39 from 49 – including some strong offensive rebounds, was critical.
Audine Bryant was outstanding again for the Demons – as much for her on-court leadership as her speed and ball skills – and Walker continues to work overtime every week, taking the ball strongly and making great position in the shooting circle.
Earle’s accuracy kept the Demons in the contest once the match tightened up, while Tara Bryant also delivered some incredible balls and picked up some important defensive touches through the mid court.
But in the end, the loss has probably consigned the Demons to the wooden spoon, unless they can secure an upset victory over one of the finals contenders.
MILLICENT 66 d NORTH GAMBIER 30
DESPITE an impressive start from North Gambier, where it went toe-to-toe with reigning premier Millicent, the Saints proved too strong in round 11 of Western Border netball on Saturday.
For the first half of the opening quarter the Tigers used slick ball movement and some tough defence to lock themselves in a goal-for-goal battle with the undefeated Saints.
But Millicent flicked a switch around the seven-minute mark and denied North any easy route to the shooting circle, while starting to use its own ball speed to find direct access to Demi Verbena and Donna Denton as the scoreboard pressure mounted.
Sarah Nulty was one of the North players who started strongly, finding good space and finishing accurately, but in the end, Millicent upped the defensive intensity with Hayley Dunn, Madi Haggett, Hannah Nitschke and Lisa Duldig denying any time or space in the goal third.
Dunn and Haggett picked up any rebounds at the defensive end and the Tigers’ deficit began to grow.
Both sides made changes at the half, with Tabatha Sanderson entering the clash at goal shooter in her A Grade debut for the Saints, while North moved Mel Renko into centre, Ash Kalantarian into goal attack and Ailie Flett entered the match at wing defence.
Both sides had to adjust to the new-look Saints shooting circle which saw Sanderson use her height to perfection with a strong holding game and missing only two goals in the second half as she tested the aerial skills of Maddie Whaites and Noni McConnell.
Flett’s introduction and Renko’s move to the middle certainly seemed to help the Tigers slow the ball movement of the Saints and the reigning champions certainly had to work harder to find Sanderson and Verbena in space.
Renko was instrumental in attack with her strong drives and in the final quarter, North’s new-look front-line seemed to click and scored more freely than it had all game.
Kalantarian was a good target in the shooting circle and finished strongly, while at the other end, McConnell and Whaites finally found some turnover ball, courtesy of the pressure up from Renko and Flett.
Millicent’s Paige Nitschke went into goals for the final quarter with Hannah Nitschke to the attacking wing and Verbena to the less-familiar territory of wing defence.
In the end, the Saints enjoyed a comfortable 36-goal victory to remain untouched at the top of the premiership ladder.
WEST GAMBIER 56 d EAST GAMBIER 38
WEST Gambier took control early and never relinquished their stranglehold on the clash against East Gambier at McDonald Park on Saturday.
The round 11 Western Border netball match saw the Roos continue to build their premiership credentials with relentless defensive pressure and slick ball movement in attack, while East could not find its rhythm offensively or defensively.
West won the first two quarters comfortably and enjoyed a 14-goal lead at half time before East swung some changes and cut the deficit back to 10 by the final change.
Brittany Ross, who started on the attacking wing, moved back to the goal shooter role, while Sara Smith moved from shooter to centre and Tarsh McCallum switched to wing attack to make her the more dangerous feeder.
The changes reaped rewards and the Bulldogs won the third term, but the final quarter saw the Roos dominate again and secure an 18-goal win at the final whistle.
The defensive combination of Morgan Amy – who played back at goal keeper for the game – and Jacinta Clark secured half a dozen turnovers in the final quarter, but the Bulldogs kept coughing up possession as the Roos worked well as a unit to continually win the ball back.
Maddy Teakle earned a number of important touches throughout the match, while Emily Hunter had an impact at both ends of the court, using her speed to great effect in attack and placing an inordinate amount of defensive pressure on East when it had possession.
Amy Cram continued to be the general of the defensive line and holding the usually high-scoring Bulldogs to 38 goals was a credit to West’s defensive work.
Jordan Freeman took the wing attack bib and the youngster continues to impress against her more experienced and physically stronger opponents, using her netball smarts to have an impact.
Lisa McGregor was her usual influential self, setting up West’s attacking end and finding her shooting partner Tahlia Earl in space.
Her battle with Clark was one of the match-ups of the day, as both proved critical for their respective teams.
It was a disappointing result for the Bulldogs, who are looking to build a reputation as a team in contention this year.
Tenille Gray did a mountain of work up the court, but the Bulldogs just could not find their usual connections and were forced to work hard for every possession.
West remains as the best of the rest – behind reigning premier Millicent – and given it lost one quarter and still won by 18 goals, the result sent an ominous message to the rest of the competition.