NETBALL: Round 19 River Murray netball preview

IT wasn’t very long ago that the Murray River Netball Association teams were trialling their squads for positions, testing out and rotating players to find the best combinations and working out their coaches and what to expect through the season.

Now it’s here – the final game of the minor round season and how quickly it has come around.

In previous years, finals positions are secured and players are planning the weeks ahead, but for a couple of teams this weekend’s games are vital on whether they get to participate in the finals series or not.

There isn’t just one game of the round this week, but two exciting games coming our way.

The two top teams Mannum and Imperials play against each other in what will be a test for both, before they line up again on each other next weekend in the important qualifying final.

The second game of the round would have to be the Meningie versus Mypolonga game, the decider on who makes the top four.

If Mypolonga win this game they will sit on 18 points, equal with Jervois, and play next Sunday in the elimination final, but if the Bears defeat the Tigers, it will all come down to the final percentage and they could kick Mypo out of fourth position, and may find themselves playing next Sunday instead.

Ramblers travel to Jervois to take on the third-placed Bluds and Tailem Bend has finished its 2014 season as they have the bye this weekend. Game times: 12.45pm – B grade and intermediates, 2pm – A grade and C grade, 3.15pm – A reserves.

Meningie v Mypolonga

This game will be one of the most important games of the season for both teams.

Fourth playing fifth, with the chance of Meningie dropping Mypolonga from the top four position in the last minor round of the year.

Meningie won’t hold back in this game as they have nothing to lose, but neither will Mypolonga.

In round four, Meningie defeated Mypolonga by 15 goals but the Tigers reversed that result in round 11 beating the Bears by four.

Mypolonga have had a hoodoo hanging over their heads in the past few weeks, with injuries hitting the team and player absences, but they are back on track and ready to play finals with the remaining players staying focused and committed.

The Tigers team know how to play great netball and when they are on a roll they are very hard to stop.

Meningie has continually improved each week this season and have shown other clubs that they aren’t messing around and are up to playing finals.

On paper, these two teams have classy, talented players who will put on a good show this week for their supporters. Stacey Peckover and Marni Hood in Meningie’s goals are standing tall and frustrating the best of defenders and in Mypolonga’s goal circle Kara Bolt and Zoe Gepp have formed a bond and surprise their opponents with their swift moves.

Mikayla Smart, Bec Longden and Natasha Hertel in Meningie’s defence, always have a good competition against Bolt and Gepp and have the added advantage of height over their shorter opposition.

Sheridan O’Brien has been controlling the back court over the past couple of weeks for Mypolonga but with the inclusion of Kate Nolan back in to the team, O’Brien can be moved to any of the three defensive positions.

Meningie has a strong midcourt with Krystal Gibbs, Eden Harkness and new player, Olivia Gallio settling well into the team. Gallio should match up on Mypolonga centre Kelsey Gepp, leaving Harkness with a tight battle on Ashleigh Horsnell in wing attack for the Tigers.

Bottom line: This game will go down to the wire and every turn over will matter for both clubs.

My tip: Mypolonga in a very close game.

Jervois v Ramblers

Jervois go into this game sitting in third position on the ladder, and whatever the outcome no positional changes will be made.

Tailem Bend felt the grunt of Jervois’ powerful play last week, and the Roosters will go through the same heartache this week.

The Bluds, under coach Tessa Thurston, are determined to win this year’s premiership and if they play like they have been they have got a great chance of being the surprise packet.

Jess Bell, in Jervois’ midcourt, has played hard netball all year and even with her tiny stature can hold her ground and use her speed to lose many opponents.

If Ramblers’ coach Bree Leibhardt plays her quick midcourt player Nikki Dougall on Bell, it could be quite a competition between the two and worthy of a look.

Jervois’ Thurston in goal defence, had a good game on Rambler main player and goal attack, Tania McFee, when they last met and will take on the role again this weekend.

Backing up Thurston is Maddie McGinty in goal keeper, who is continually developing her game and becoming a real threat for opposition shooters.

Kelly Barton-Ancliffe and Mandy Smith in Ramblers defence will have a the tiresome task of deflecting passes and holding the Bluds shooters Jo Hill and Candice Love out of the goal circle.

Helen Partridge and Bell are clever passing players and strategically get the ball into their shooters without hesitation.

Ramblers have some young players in their midcourt in Annie and Georgia O’Neil and Kenisha Seidel who are learning each week but will be overshadowed by the experience of Partridge, Bell and Charly Heym in the centre court.

Bottom line: Jervois are on a roll and ready to pounce on the top teams in the next few weeks. Ramblers will make the Bluds work for every ball but Jervois has a classy outfit this season and will dominate in most positions on the court.

My tip: Jervois.

Mannum v Imperials

This game will show spectators the talent and class that will be on court during the finals series as these top two teams use this game as a guide to see how each will fare the following week in the quarter finals.

Both teams had convincing wins last weekend and deserve their current positions on the ladder.

Playing coach Amy Loechel is back in form after a slight injury and is shooting like a pro.

She rarely missed a goal against Mypolonga and those rare few she did were picked up by her shooting team-mate Abby Williams.

These two girls have had the opportunity to spend the last few weeks in goals together, after juggling the team around with injury and travel, and have responded by coming in to great form at the best part of the year.

Imperials know what to expect and have the players to challenge Mannum. Trudy Holland and Ali Rumbelow in the Blues defence are tough defenders and will compete for every ball.

This end of the court will be very interesting.

At the other end, Mannum’s Tracy Loechel will once again be standing Imperials goal attack, Olivia Scholz, which is always a highlight to any game and there will be a good battle with Mannum’s Jaime-Lee Paterson and Hannah Dreckow under the Blues goal ring, but if Dreckow is on fire she will make it hard for Paterson to stop her.

The midcourt for both teams boasts plenty of talent.

Mannum has speed and versatility with Kelly Allen, Kim Smithson and Jemma Woollard and the young Imperials line up of Jess Byrnes, Laura Berling, Sarah March and Gemma Harkness have developed into a unique combination under the guidance of coach Tracey DeMichele.

Bottom line: All areas of the court will be evenly covered by both teams, making it a cracker of a game for spectators.

My tip: Surprise win by Mannum going into the finals on their form from last week but only by the bare minimum.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.