SOUTH GAMBIER v NORTH GAMBIER
A NAILBITER looms between South and North Gambier at Blue Lake Sports Park today in round 12 of Western Border netball.
The pair have already played two tight tussles this season and this clash should be no different.
The Demons are fresh off an agonising one-goal defeat at the hands of Casterton Sandford, while the Tigers were no match for Millicent, which has left the form line is hard to read.
Both teams have been plagued by injury this season and have not enjoyed any continuity with line-up changes each week.
North’s defence has been a strength as Maddie Whaites, Noni McConnell and Mel Renko have provided the side’s experience.
Ash Kalantarian has spent most of her time in the mid court, but has also moved into the shooting circle which could continue.
Promising youngster Sarah Nulty may be unavailable for the clash due to Pioneers commitments, but the accurate Alisha Bryan has been one of the more consistent Tigers this year.
Ellen Brown has also shown good composure in her first season and Ailie Flett can still play a mid-court role.
The Demons’ line-up has also been hard to predict, but the return of Alyce Pearce-Raisin will shore up the defensive end alongside Riley Buckingham and Tori McIntyre.
Tara Bryant, Audine Bryant and Imogen Walker will guide the offensive end of the court, but an injury cloud hangs over Alyssa Duncan, who rolled her ankle last weekend.
North will need to be at its best to make to keep its undefeated record intact against South in a close encounter.
EAST GAMBIER v MILLICENT
EAST Gambier will somehow look to bounce back from an under-par performance last week against an in-form Millicent outfit at McDonald Park today.
The Bulldogs did not play to the level they expected against the Roos and it will be a tough ask to find form against the reigning premier, despite the latter missing the versatile pair of Donna and Lucy Denton.
The Saints will make scoring tough through the defensive work of Hayley Dunn, Madi Haggett, Hannah Nitschke and Lisa Duldig, while Paige Nitschke and Demi Verbena provide plenty of speed in the front court.
After her Millicent A Grade debut last weekend, Tabatha Sanderson may receive the promotion again with the likes of Alice Pratt, Nat Potter and Kayleigh Taylor expected to step up as well.
The Saint with the most difficult task will be Haggett, who is likely to be appointed against East star Tenille Gray.
The reigning best and fairest will be determined to put a rare quiet outing behind her and continue her stellar season.
Defenders Jacinta Clark and Morgan Amy looked to have developed some synergy together and they will need to combine again to deny Millicent any easy ball.
A Bulldogs victory may rely on the ability of Tyne Bosko and Tarsh McCallum to place pressure over the solid Saints feeders, but East Gambier must lift its defensive intensity and improve the connection in attack if it is to stage an upset.
The recent form guide suggests a comfortable Millicent win as the Bulldogs will look for a more consistent four-quarter effort.
CASTERTON SANDFORD v WEST GAMBIER
WEST Gambier will head across the border in hot form and look score another win when it faces Casterton Sandford at Island Park today.
Last week the Roos pulled off another impressive performance to stamp themselves as the most likely contender to take Millicent’s crown.
Despite still missing Carlee Ransom, West continued to show swift ball movement in offence and intensity in defence.
The Cats will hope to get up after a hard fought one-goal win over South Gambier, but this week’s opponents are a huge step up in class and the home side will need to shift a gear for another win.
Casterton Sandford played poorly in the first quarter and were down by nine goals at the first break before staging a comeback against the Demons.
If the Cats start in the same fashion as last round, a significant defeat will be on the cards.
Madalene Cleary found form at goal defence and shapes up to be the perfect match up for Roos’ forward Lisa McGregor.
Marlee Gartlan also impressed in the defensive circle, while the experience and athleticism of Sharna Fidler at wing defence and the strong driving of Scarlett Jarrad through the middle showed promising signs for the improving Casterton Sandford squad.
At the other end, Tori Perry and Christine Harris continue to work well as a scoring combination and the latter was on song under the net during the tense second half.
West defenders Amy Cram and Maddy Teakle work well in tandem and often force errors from opposition feeders, while Carly Trevilyan influences the contest defensively with her work in offence.
Emily Hunter is in outstanding form and runs hard both ways, while McGregor and Tahlia Earl have found a perfect mix between using strong holds, front cuts and screening.
The Cats did draw with the West in the opening round of the season, but it was against an undermanned side.
There is no doubt the Casterton Sandford will have to be at its best to challenge the Roos, but West’s impressive form should sew up second spot.