River Murray netball teams are fighting for a finals spot

Got it: Emily Hill, Tailem Bend, takes possession of the ball in front of Jessica Katae, Ramblers, during an A grade match earlier in the season. Photo - William Bailey.

Got it: Emily Hill, Tailem Bend, takes possession of the ball in front of Jessica Katae, Ramblers, during an A grade match earlier in the season. Photo - William Bailey.

This week we are at the halfway mark of the season, but before we start, there is something else that needs to be said.

Over the long weekend the River Murray Netball Association sent five teams to compete in the State Country Championships at Mile End.

Four teams made the finals with the 17 and under side making the grand final, eventually going down in a tough game of netball.

The weekend provided the opportunity to witness some good players performing at their best in some great games of netball settled by only one or two goals.

Feedback that came my way from past acquaintances was how proud our association should be of our players and their level of sportsmanship, even one person commenting on the smiles and laughs that were seen on and around the courts by our players.

Congratulations must go to all of our personnel, both on and off the courts, including coaches, managers and umpires with a special congratulations to all who participated in grand finals, including umpire Helen Poulish.

Now for this week,we have what promises to be two very exciting games of netball which could impact our premiership table.

The first game is Ramblers v Tailem Bend and secondly, Mannum v Mypolonga - all four clubs are vying for positions within the final four and with only three spots available the question is who will miss out?

Senior playing times: 12.45pm - B grade & C grade; 2pm - A grade & B reserve; 3.15pm - A reserve.

Imperials v Jervois

This week Imperials will welcome Jervois.

Imperials are the side every other team would love to beat, and although Jervois are still a developing team, that same desire is no different to every other opponent the Blues face.

However there is one huge stumbling block for the Bluds and that is the extra height and experience that the Blues players are well known for.

Within the Imperials team there is no weak link in which any opposition could focus on to attack and exploit they are, in short, a complete team "playing-wise".

Their weak link, if you can call it that, is complacency; it is very hard to keep a team switched on week after week with every aspect of what it means to be the number one side.

There must be times when coach Carrie Daniels must wonder how to keep her team focussed on all that is good in team sport and not get lost in individual accolades and successes.

Jervois, on the other hand, are well and truly focussed on each other, for to move forward and strive to succeed they must first know and understand each other.

The last time these teams met was in round three when Jervois was still a developing team and hopefully this week they will give a stronger account of themselves and make the Blues work harder for the points.

There is no doubt this week will be another win to Imperials, but to the Bluds girls anything less than the margin from last time will also be a win.

Ramblers v Tailem Bend

Ramblers will face Tailem Bend at home in what promises to be one of the games of the round.

This game will see fourth place take on fifth place, and although there is three points separating the two teams at the moment, a win for Tailem will not see them pass Ramblers, but it will give the Eagles players a belief of possible finals participation could be achievable.

In round three Ramblers ran out 14-goal winners, which to most people would seem a resounding win, but for Ramblers the win was secured at quarter time with a 14-goal lead 18-.

If there is one thing Rambler coach Mark Dougall can be assured of is that Tailem coach Darren Wasley will not let his players start that slow again.

This game will be a lot tougher and far more competitive than the last time these two teams met and will commence right from the first whistle.

Also in round three both teams used nine players in the match, this time both combinations should be far more settled, and providing there are no hidden injuries or absences, the match ups will be noticeably more competitive.

Ramblers has a strong and confident combination in goals with Nicole Simon and Keneisha Seidel.

Both have played together for a number of seasons now, so they know each other's strengths and weaknesses.

Tailem Bend also now has a settled shooting combination in Emily Hill and Melissa Edwards, so for both teams when each ball enters the circle a goal should be the end result - should but not always.

Enter the defenders, for Ramblers Jessica Katae and Jessica Crocker make a very good defensive team, and should make the Tailem players work hard to gain possession of the ball.

With rebounds potentially going either way, Hill is usually strong under the ring but in this game she will have competition for ball control.

For Tailem the defensive team is different to the one from round three - could this change make a real difference?

It is hard not to see Ramblers secure the win but they cannot allow the Eagles to get a good start, for if they do this game could potentially go either way.

Down court: Mypolonga's Ashleigh Horsnell in action during a recent A grade River Murray netball match. Photo - William Bailey.

Down court: Mypolonga's Ashleigh Horsnell in action during a recent A grade River Murray netball match. Photo - William Bailey.

Mannum v Mypolonga

Mannum at home, are a dangerous team for any club to face and Mypolonga are no different to any other side.

When these two teams first met it was a 25-goal victory to Mypolonga - some would say this time around cannot be much different, but those people may not know Mannum like Mypo coach Sharmon Banks does.

In that first encounter teams were missing key players, for Mannum it was Kellie Klose missing in action and for Mypolonga Nadia Manly was not available - the question is can two players make such a difference?

The answer is yes, for it is not necessarily the two players who make the difference but the combination of players that can change the dimension of the game.

In round three Mannum shooters Amy Loechel and newly promoted Gemma Horstmann were still learning how to play together.

Mypolonga must accept that those lessons have now been learned and Horstmann and Loechel are a very good combination indeed.

Also Mypolonga must face, for the first time this season, the return of what was one of the strongest and toughest defensive combinations in the association, as Kellie Klose and Tracy Dabinett are together on court again.

This combination for Mannum gives the side a definite height advantage in the Tigers goal circle, so accuracy for the Mypolonga shooters needs to be at its best, but who will give Banks the accuracy she will need?

Banks will have to choose between Brooke Watson, Zoe Kiley-Gepp or Manly and this decision could be the factor that decides the winner of this game.

For most this match would be a win to Mypolonga but I am going out on a limb to say that after watching Mannum play a couple of weeks ago there is a real chance the Roos will secure the valuable points.

                                - Pat Brown