The tide appears to be slowly turning for Imperials and their chance at four premierships in a row.
They started the season off with only a one goal win against the new contenders Meningie and then last week only just managed to get over the line against Mypolonga by a goal.
Is that an indication that they are slowly being pulled back into contention against the other clubs and not the dominant team of the last three years?
Or are all the other team’s starting to get their measure and thereby improved their own games to combat the Blues strengths?
This Thursday night Tailem Bend are hosting Mypolonga at 7pm, the re-scheduled game allows anyone who loves watching netball, the chance to see one good game on Thursday night and then a choice of two other good games come Saturday.
Imperials will play hosts to Ramblers and Meningie will welcome Mannum down south.
Currently at the moment we see Ramblers and Meningie see sawing for second spot, in checking out the programme the second spot will be decided when these two Clubs meet each other in round eighteen.
All clubs should by now be getting ready for finals are fast approaching, Clubs need to keep a close eye on player movements over these last three weeks, no one wants to see a player fill in for the team above and then find they cannot come back down for finals.
So I say check and re-check that all is well.
Coaches tip: The time is fast approaching to have everything in order, all questions asked and answered and above all else, yourself ready, willing and able to handle the pressures you and your team are about to face.
Senior playing times: 12.45pm – A grade and C grade; 2pm – A reserves and B Reserves; 3.15pm – B grade.
Imperials v Ramblers
Imperials had a really big scare last week in accounting for the current ranked fourth spot contenders Mypolonga by only one goal.
This week they face one of the teams that they could come up against in the Qualifying final, Ramblers.
Imperials need to show everyone that they are still the team to beat and Ramblers will want to prove that they also can give as good as they get, just like Meningie and Mypolonga.
The Imperials team has never had as many season changes as this year’s team has, and so far they have handled those changes really well, such has been the depth from within the club.
Imperials coach Carrie Daniels will hope that her team can remain as is, for if they don’t the fall out on team combinations could start to impact on the over-all team balance.
Imperials goal circle will again be the hardest area of the court, Ramblers defenders will have to come out fighting hard for ball control right from the first whistle.
This goal scoring dominance has made the Blues so strong, if the Ramblers defenders can start to make these Blues players more answerable for ball control, then cracks may start to appear in the Imperials style of game.
Sounds easy but it is not, there is so much experience within the Imperials line-up that it would be virtually impossible to see them collapse in such a way and whilst they have to very versatile Olivia Scholz fit and ready to play, they always will have the potential answer that they may need.
Ramblers on the other hand have worked hard over the previous two years and feel that they are well and truly ready to take the next big step and I don’t mean just make the finals but to play in the big one in September.
For that to happen Ramblers coach Shirley Hartman will need to do all her homework on Imperials options, strengths and weaknesses, something I am sure Hartman has been working on for weeks now.
Ramblers will need to rely on their ever ready shooter Tania McFee to lead them like never before if they hope to create those cracks in the Imperial game plan.
This will be one excellent game of netball to watch this week and one I would recommend to anyone looking for a sport spectacle.
I am not sure that Ramblers are quite ready and after the scare Imperials had last week it is hard to see them let this game slip away.
Meningie v Mannum
Meningie currently sitting in third spot will play host to fifth position team Mannum.
The first time these two teams met there was a six goal difference with no Amy Loechel for Mannum.
The second time there was only a three goal gap with the return of Loechel.
This week who knows what the outcome could be as Mannum now appear to be back at full strength.
This is going to be a very good competitive game of netball, Meningie want to prove they are premiership contenders and Mannum will want to prove although they have not had the wins this season they would have expected due mainly to injuries, they are still a team to be feared.
The big question for this game will be where, will Tracey Dabinett play in goals or in defence.
Last time these two teams met they were even at three quarter time and the game could have gone either way, this Saturday I believe we should see more of the same.
Meningie seem to have settled more since the return of Matt Hood on the sidelines, these pair of experienced eyes must be making the job a little easier for Liv Gallio as a playing coach.
However it is still the team on court that has to do the work needed to achieve success and the Bears will have to find that balance if they hope to be successful this season.
This game will be a good test game for the finals for the Bears, to feel that they have a real chance they must succeed this week.
They must succeed with a good score line if they really want to announce that they have arrived and are well and truly ready to face all comers.
Meningie’s shooters Marni Hood and Mikayla Nicholson will have their work cut out for them especially if Dabinett plays in defence, feeding into the Bears goal circle will be made significantly harder if Dabinett teams up with Sophie Kroehn at goal keeper and Jemma Woollard at wing defence.
This is definitely a proven defence combination and as both Meningie shooters like to play an aerial game so to do the Mannum defenders.
This is going to be a really hard fought battle this week Meningie needs the points if they want second spot, Mannum need the points for self-pride alone, could this game be another draw for the season, both teams would say “NO it is ours”.
Tailem Bend v Mypolonga
Tailem Bend will host Mypolonga tonight, Tailem consented to the time change due to a wedding causing some havoc out Mypo way.
This is the second time Tailem have changed to a night game this season, the first time saw them win against Mannum, could tonight see the same.
Not if Mypolonga come out and play like they did against Imperials last week.
With all the team changes Mypo have seen this season to their core base and with Kate Nolan now out as well, the team appear to be settling into a good combination and as long as they can stay away from injuries they could become a very good balanced team of seven.
Tailem as all teams know play a different style of game than most teams due mainly to a shorter centre court combination than other clubs, but it is a combination that can do a lot of damage to opponents if not physically then certainly mentally.
Tailem’s shooting combination of Melissa Edwards and Kirstie Gregory when if allowed to get their eye in early in the game, can become devastating soul destroyers for defenders, for no matter how hard the defenders work these two can shoot from just about anywhere within the ring, no need to get as close to the post as possible, just put it up in the air.
Mypolonga’s shooters Maddi Salter and Zoe Kiley-Gepp are starting to settle well together, with Salter providing the height and Kiley-Gepp the lower court coverage, both team’s combinations actually play a similar style of game.
The centre court area will be quite fast and furious as Tailem’s line-up are not afraid to take on any combination whilst Mypolonga’s team play are more settled and controlled style of play.
Defence combinations for both teams will be of equal importance, for as everyone knows shooting accuracy will be of a high standard in this game.
If Mypolonga play like they did last week they will walk away with another win. Tailem Bend on the other hand have nothing to lose by taking it right up to the Tigers and could pull off another night time win.
My money is on Mypolonga, because for it not to be is something this close to finals the Tigers would not want to see.