THERE is no doubt after last week that we are all involved in a winter sport, the rain and cold that hit our region last Saturday was a reminder of the conditions that our sport does encounter every now and then.
River Murray Netball Association players were seen shivering on court as they were pelted with rain particularly in the 12.45pm time slot and because of this rain and cold, scores were a lot lower than normally seen on a Saturday.
However being in a country region no one was going to complain about the rain; that was a good thing, the cold however was a huge wake-up call.
Considering we are only this week entering the second month of winter we can expect to experience more days like last week, so all had better be prepared.
This week we have Meningie taking on top of the table Imperials, Mypolonga up against a vastly improved Tailem Bend and Ramblers welcoming Mannum in the battle for third spot on the table.
The way our table currently stands the four teams that will play off in this season's finals rounds do now look settled, mainly due to the six point buffer between current fourth place holders Mannum and fifth placed Tailem.
There would have to be some unexpected results to take away Imperials, Mypolonga's, Ramblers and Mannum's earned rights to play in the finals.
Senior playing times: 12.45pm - A grade and C grade; 2pm - A reserve and B reserve; 3.15pm - B grade.
Meningie v Imperials
Meningie this week will welcome Imperials down south.
This will be one of the hardest games for the Bears players to face this season and they will be happy it is for the final time.
When these two teams last met in round six, it was a forty nine goal victory to the Blues.
Meningie on that occasion was still an unsettled team and coach Shauna Chaplin was still looking for answers to her selection dilemmas.
She has now settled those questions and has promoted to her team a number of the Clubs up and coming younger players, players like Chelsea Swan.
Imperials were back to full strength last week and although there was only a six goal gap at quarter time, that gap had blown out to nineteen goals by half time against Ramblers.
Imperials' focus is now building towards the finals, and that means no let-up of pressure by all seven Blues players on court at any given time, for Imperials coach Carrie Daniels will not accept anything less than total commitment by all.
Meningie are not generally an overly tall team in most positions, but the positions where they do generally gain a small height advantage over are not there this week, as they face an Imperials team well known for its height across the whole court area.
Players to look out for this week include for Meningie Chelsea Devitt who has returned from injury also young improver Swan and for Imperials well just about all of them.
There is no question as to who will take out this game, the biggest question is can Meningie reduce the margin from round six, not if Imperials have anything to do with it.
Mypolonga v Tailem Bend
Mypolonga will welcome Tailem Bend this week in what should be an interesting game of netball.
Neither of these teams have an overall height advantage as they both have players at either end more than capable of gaining ball possession.
Through the entire centre court regions most players are generally competitive in size and attitude, the only exception would be if Tailem coach Darren Wasley decided to play Kiarra Paech in at centre, giving the Eagles a slight height advantage in the middle of the court.
Last time these two teams met second place Mypolonga only secured a twelve goal victory, the Tigers will be looking for more this week as they too will be planning in readiness for the finals competition.
One very interesting contest for spectators to watch will be Mypolonga's Ashleigh Horsnell at wing defence possibly coming up against Tailem Bend's Emily Edwards, to say there is no love loss on court between these two players is an understatement,
They are both very determined players, strong and confident in themselves going for the ball and neither likes to give way to their opposition, to both of these players ball possession is what matters most.
A question for coach Wasley is which combination of shooters and defenders will Mypolonga coach Sharmon Banks select for her team, for the Tigers have a number of varied combinations that can work in any style of game just as well as any other and against any opposition.
She also has probably more players than other teams that can play either end of the court just as well, players like Emma Kluske or Nadia Manly.
This will be a good game of netball to go and watch, both teams are very dedicated to the end result and both teams will want the win, but it is hard to see Mypolonga letting this game go.
Ramblers v Mannum
Ramblers this week will play host to Mannum in what is undoubtedly the game of the round, for in this game we have third place verses fourth and with only one point currently separating both teams, this game more than any other could change the look of the table this week.
Rambler coach Mark Dougall over the past few weeks has made some changes to his team line up as he seeks answers to some questions.
While Mannum coach Jemma Woollard has all her questions answered and is just waiting for the cement holding her team together to set, to really show where they are heading.
Ramblers as we all know play a different style of game, a game not built around height and body strengths but a game built around skills, particularly ball movement and control, elevation and determination.
Mannum on the other hand have height at both ends and years of experience in players Amy Loechel, Kellie Klose and Tracy Dabinett.
Ramblers are the quiet achievers the team that goes around working hard and fast to achieve success, while Mannum on the other hand are strong, forceful and demand control of the air.
This will be a brilliant game of netball to watch as both teams long to be able to contest this year's grand final.
Players to look out for, for Ramblers captain Nikki Dougall is always one to keep an eye on as she more than most can turn a game with just an intercept here or an intercept there, as she has the strongest set of hands than most other centres in the competition.
Also let's not forget the two Jesses, Jessica Crocker and Jessica Katae both silent assassins for contesting the ball in what will be Mannum's goal circle.
Feeders for Mannum will have to be very sure when giving the ball into the goal circle, as both of these players are more than capable of going for the unexpected intercept.
While for Mannum, goal attack Gemma Horstmann although only young, as settled very well into this A grade competition and is learning so much from goal shooter Loechel.
Mannum's centre court combination of Georgia Murray, Emily Paech, Sarah Tucker or Phoebe Wegener are proving to be a confident combination with no one star, each player carries an equal work load, making them a very hard combination to break.
This will be a great game of netball and although Ramblers are currently sitting in that third spot I believe that Mannum are building momentum.
And, if they truly wish to be considered a grand final contender, then they need this victory, and I believe that they could just do it.