Wren wins nail-biter

Saturday, April 27, saw the start of the Port Pirie Netball Association season, after the normal formalities of the morning and some of the dignitaries enjoying the lunch served for them it was all business on the courts; with the weather playing nice, no wind and sun shining the clubs took to the courts with gusto. The association boasts 70 teams this year and is happy with continued growth throughout all grades.

Our ANZAC Day Medal clash between reigning premiers Blue Wren taking on Solomontown on Court 2 did not disappoint, this game was played in true spirit of our ANZACs with both sides putting in some of the best contested netball we have seen over the last few years.

Blue Wren were without their coach and GS Cara Fiebig, who was away enjoying some family celebrations, while the rest of her crew were slugging it out on the courts, this did allow junior development player Sophie Farrugia to be promoted to cover Fiebig's position for the day. Reminiscent of some of her mothers' movements, Sophie used her hold and drop to her advantage where able over the long hands of Solly defence in Chloe Knibbs GD and Talisha Warne GK, who meshed well in the defence end. Chloe moved well down the court and backed up her players all game.

Talisha continues to improve her defensive skills each year and was able to turn multiple balls around off rebounds. Kirby Symons GA as usual was firing on all cylinders and in perfect conditions outside made the most of it. New to Blue Wren was Jordan Sladdin WA who slotted in well to their line-up, her ability to pass into her goalies shows how well the Wren's attack is working already. Tiffany Brooks from Solomontown was as always tireless in her efforts for multiple intercepts and touches throughout the mid court and her ability to spring herself into the air with ease didn't go unnoticed. Tiah Peek started in C for Wren, solid as always Tiah keeps that ball flowing down the court and into her goalies whilst also putting pressure on in her defensive half.

Georgia Rose Scarman C for Solomontown ran out her position well, she is a key part of the Solly centre court and her voice of support for her fellow team mates. After a few years hiatus Kelsey Athanasos who looked as aerial and deadly as ever made an impact in WD for Wren, whilst first year player Micaela Cox was able to pull off some good centre breaks and get that ball down in to the Solly goal end well. New to Solly was Georgia Pryor alongside sister Maddi Pryor, these two work well together in the ring and you can see they have that connection of where each other is without often saying. I'm sure mum and dad are happy they only need to be out once a week now.

Samarah Wark, runner-up B&F in the previous season of A Grade, again showed why she pulls votes, her ability to grab rebounds and get the ball out of the defence quickly and without error proves she is again one to watch this year. Ashe Haldane GK for Wren along with her two good knees played some of her best netball, intercepts, rebounds and her talk will only improve the Wren defence in season 2019. Blue Wren just inching over the line 42 defeating Solomontown 37. Best for Blue Wren Kirby Symons, Samarah Wark and Kelsey Athanasos and Solly best Chloe Knibbs, Maddison Pryor and Georgia Rose Scarman.

Georgia Pryor was awarded the Anzac Day Medal which was presented by Tricia Thoman on behalf of her mother Launa Conlin who served, also present was local RSL vice president Mick Hopgood who helped with presentations.

Our second A Grade match of the day between St Marks Celtic and Central Risdon saw a few returning and new faces to the court.

Centrals are lucky to have the experience of Tegan Edwards back in the team for the season, looking like she had never left. Tegan used her expertise and skills to move the ball effortlessly down the court and into the ring. Partnered with Penny Malchow this makes for a deadly combination; Penny is deceivingly quick and accurate. Not to be outdone by SMC defence Calalou Klinger between GK and GD during the game with GD being the position she stamps her authority the most. Calalou is able to turn the ball over with some of the most unexpected intercepts we see on our courts.

Maddison Caputo also covering the SMC defensive end played well against some tough opposition, although injuring herself and having to come off this allowed Dakota Petagna SMC junior development player the opportunity to slot in GK, she did not look out of place on the court and SMC are lucky to have some talented and tall defenders coming through the ranks. SMC mid court saw a few changes, Chelsey Caputo out with an injury, sees Emma Hayes return to Pirie netball in C, Emma has a talent to be able to position herself on the goal ring and demand the ball to benefit her goalies.

Brooke Caputo this year in WA again is a solid player for SMC midcourt, also heading off the court injured, this allowed Brittany Possingham to take the court, SMC have great versatility this year with many of the player being able to slot into the midcourt without missing a beat. Centrals midcourt consisting of new promoted youngster Shalia Brusnanhan WA along with experienced player Alana Pine in WD and Ashleigh Possingham C shows that Centrals have a solid mid court to tackle the combinations they have later in the year. The tussle in the SMC attack with Millie Tubb GA who is hard to stop when she is accurate and Ashleigh Schrader in GS with her height and her ability to hold her player out to gain those high balls into the circle against Centrals Tammy Pine GD and Emma Tolson GK proved a tough one, throughout the game centrals defence was able to capitalise on turnovers and rebounds, Centrals have some great depth this year with the return of old and a few new, and the same could be said with SMC.

These two teams often battle it out at the end of the year in finals so whichever team can gel quickest will be able to come away with the wins at the end of this year. Centrals coming away with the win 66 with best players Tegan Edwards, Shalia Brusnahan and Penny Malchow defeated SMC 44 best Calalou Klinger, Emma Hayes and Ash Schrader

Next week sees the PPNA start Friday night matches so we look forward to seeing you all out there for Pam's famous toasties and some thrilling netball to watch.

- ABBY ZUBRINICH