Week 11 of the Port Pirie Netball Association A Grade started and finished last Friday night at the John Pirie Secondary School Gymnasium, with a long awaited clash between the first and second placed teams thus far in the Season, in Central Risdon and Solomontown, and the game certainly did not disappoint.
There were no real surprises in this one, and Cats Coach Justina Adams and Central Coach Teresa Tancock fielded lineups familiar to all keen netball observers. At one end, Solomontown shooters Jacqui Iley and Maddison Pryor were matched up against Centrals defenders Abbey Lagoudis and Alyse Lynch.
Green and Gold midcourters Alana Pine, Ashleigh Possingham and Samantha Pine took on blue-and-white runners in Chloe Knibbs, Gracen Dyer and Tayla Stevens, and added to this, Central shooters Tegan Edwards and Samarah Wark were manned up by Cats defenders Talisha Warne and Emily Gray.
From the starting whistle this was a fast paced and free flowing game, with goals scored readily at both ends of the court despite intense defensive action from both sets of defenders, and as time ran out through the first quarter, Solomontown were able to take a slight advantage into the first break holding a two goal lead 17-15.
At the first break, no doubt the two Coaches asked for more defensive pressure, and when the teams hit the court, what was once a free flowing attacking game quickly turned into a though defensive grind, and scoring was a lot more difficult in both circles. But, in a close contest, Solomontown were again able to just edge out their opposition to win the quarter by one, and take a 28-25 lead into half time.
At the long break Coach Tancock exchanged Sam Pine and Possingham at wing attack and centre respective to change things up, whilst Coach Adams was comfortable that her players could do the job set as they were … and she was right.
In a third quarter that resembled the first, we saw a return to the attacking style and flair, and goals were much more easily come by, but in this stanza, it was Central that was able to squeeze the lead back by a goal to narrow the margin to two at the final change, where the Cats still held sway with a 43-41 lead.
And this is where Solomontown got serious, in a blaze of Jacqui Iley inspired fire, Solomontown put their foot down, changed up another gear and just accelerated away from their opponent, racking up 18 goals of their own, whilst holding Centrals to 13, and this is where the game was won.
Looking back at it, Solomontown lead from start to finish, and then the game was there to be won, they took it. Better players for the game were Central Risdon’s Samantha Pine and Wark, with Tegan Edwards named as their best. Whilst for the victorious Cats, Gray and Knibbs were solid in their respective roles, and for four quarters of quality attacking netball, Jacqui Iley was named as Best Player on Court.
The night was rounded off with finals aspirants Blue Wren Coached by Cherie Peterson, and the always dangerous Port Netball Club with Vinnie Degioia holding the reigns. Coach Peterson took her Wrens into this one with a somewhat familiar look, with Cara Fiebig and Lori Ireland teaming up in goals, whilst Vianna Fasciano, Gracie Peterson and Eden Smith ran the midcourt, and Claudia Pisani and Nicole Afford took the defensive circle.
Port Coach Degioia brought in a few newer names for this one, pairing Kayla Ford and Jordan Mezzino is goals, giving Tayla Scarman a run in the middle with Lauren Lowe and Courtney Oehms, and Ellie Warren in the defensive circle with Kelsey Fetherstonhaugh.
For those who remember last year’s grand final, well, the first fifteen minutes was as good as a repeat … Blue Wren exploded out of the blocks rattling 21 goals on the scoreboard to Ports 12.
On previous years form, one almost could have believed that, yeah, this is normal, Port will recover from this. But nope. Not this time, instead of letting them back into the game through the second term, Blue Wren stood resolute in this one again shutting down Ports scoring opportunities, whilst maintaining a clear avenue to goal, and in a 15-9 second quarter, they took the lead out to 15 goals with the score line at 36-21.
Both Coaches made some changes at the break, Coach Degioia moved Mezzino to Ports Goal Shooting role, and brought Caitlin Oliphant on at goal attack, whilst for the Wrens, Coach Peterson brought on Tiah Peek at Wing Attack, and the result of these moves saw Blue Wren almost completely shut down Ports scoring opportunities once again, whilst they in turn ratcheted their effort up another notch to pile on 18 goals to 6, and move the score to 54 goals to 27 at the final break.
Coach Degioia made a few changes at three quarter time, handing Oehms the goal attack role, running Jordan Mezzino on a wing, and moving Oliphant to Goal Shooter, which did have an effect, by which Port were able to score more effectively, but it wasn’t enough to stop the Wrens who, once again, turned up the heat and, like the second quarter, posted a 15-9 quarter over their opposition to run away eventual winners 69-36.
Better playing in this one for Port were Lowe and Mezzino, with Ellie Warren named as their best for a solid game in defence. And, for Blue Wren, Pisani and Ireland were effective, but it was Cara Fiebig who took the Best on Court Honours, along with the Player of the Week award for an outstanding four quarter effort at Goal Shooter.