River Murray netball preview, round 17: Finals prep begins

In action: Meningie's Bridgette Lewis in action during her A grade clash against Jervois. Photo: William Bailey.

In action: Meningie's Bridgette Lewis in action during her A grade clash against Jervois. Photo: William Bailey.

With this week being the first of our last three very important rounds in River Murray A grade netball, we can expect to see some good contests for the important pre-finals mental preparation period.

In particular, the Ramblers v Mannum contest holds great interest this week.

Jervois will welcome Imperials to their last home game of the season, while Tailem Bend will host Meningie in what is also their last home game of the season as well.

In last Saturday's Jervois v Meningie game, we saw back on court for the first time this season long time Meningie number one goal shooter Jane Swan.

The question for Tailem Bend is will she play this week or was last weeks game a one off?

It was great to see Jane back playing the game that she loves and it was good to see her team take out their first win for the season, even if it was against my own girls.

This week's contest between Ramblers v Mannum promises to be the game of the day should anyone be looking for something to do, especially considering Mannum only just went down last week to number two team Mypolonga, by one goal.

This game will be a potentially feisty contest, if last time these two teams met is anything to go by, let alone this being their last encounter prior to finals adding to the pressure, for they will meet again in the Elimination Final.

Senior playing times:

  • 12.45pm - A reserve and B reserve
  • 2pm - B grade and C grade
  • 3.15pm - A grade

Jervois v imperials

Jervois will welcome Imperials to their home courts for the second time this season in what will be the third contest between these two clubs.

As expected, the last two times were victories to the Blues by considerable margins and many will expect this game to be the same.

Jervois have been impacted of late by injuries and absences, and this week will be no different with goal shooter Kalarie Doecke away on a well-earned break.

Imperials over the last few weeks have had some players missing from line ups also, but this has given coach Carrie Daniels the chance to bring up some youth from the A reserves grade, opportunities that I am sure those players have appreciated.

Imperials are taller, tougher and stronger than Jervois are in just about every position, after all they have been together for a long time give or take one or two players, whilst Jervois are still a developing team, but their time will come.

To sit and think about who will and will not be playing this week for the Blues is a wasted period of time for me as Jervois coach.

It makes no difference who will take that players spot, such is the depth of versatility within the Imperials rank and file to gain another victory.

In the last game of season 2019 played at home all of the Bluds players will be concentrating on one thing and one thing only, themselves and what they can do better.

As to who the opposition is makes no difference because any challenge is simply that a challenge to take on and overcome.

Ramblers v Mannum

The match in Murray Bridge between Ramblers and Mannum is definitely the match of the round; especially after the last contest between these two clubs.

Both teams have almost the same strengths as each other; no dominance in any combination, be it comparing Ramblers Jessica Katae and Jessica Crocker to Mannum's Kellie Klose and Tracy Dabinett.

You would have to be a brave person to determine which combination of dominant defence strengths, is actually better than the other.

The same can be said for in the shooting circle, for although Ramblers' Keneisha Siedel, Nicole Simon or Lucy O'Neil can make a strong combination, Mannum's Amy Loechel and young Gemma Horstmann have also become a strong combination in the shooting circle for Mannum.

That leaves us through the midcourt, Ramblers probably have the slight advantage over Mannum with long time dependable Nikki Dougall in at centre.

However, Mannum's young guns are stepping up and taking on all obstacles within their paths and will not give Ramblers any 'easy in roads' to scoring opportunities.

Mannum's advantage over Ramblers comes with their additional height where it counts so much, particularly within the Ramblers goal ring when rebounding.

Ramblers shooters will have to be switched on in particular this week, for any missed shots will probably result in scoring opportunities for Mannum, such is the Roo's rebounding strength.

These two clubs have been sitting on the outer edge of grand final contention for a while really, and both would love the chance to contest this season's final against Imperials.

But, neither team is quite ready just yet... or are they?

There is a lot of pride and belief for both of these teams and their clubs.

Both coaches - Mark Dougall for Ramblers and Jemma Woollard for Mannum - have worked their prospective teams quite hard and for one main reason and that is to compete in the last game of the season. Whether either of these two teams can make it to that last game only time will tell, but as far as this game this week and after Mannum's close call against the Tigers, I believe that Mannum will take out the win.

Tailem Bend v Meningie

Tailem Bend and Meningie will meet again this week at the home of the Eagles.

Tailem Bend have improved this season and appear to have a lot more belief and conviction about themselves under the leadership of coach Darren Wasley.

This season's team for Tailem have bonded very well and each player has learnt the strengths of those around them, and how to use those strengths to the benefit of their team.

They are a gutsy determined team who are not afraid to challenge for any and all ball, and this determined style of play will probably unsettle some of the younger Meningie players.

A big difference to this game compared to last time they met, will be if Jane Swan does take to the court, for she will pose an unknown problem that Wasley will need his players to fill him in about, as Swan knows how to use the ring and area to her own benefit.

Brigette Lewis, April Brown and Chelsea Devitt have blended to give the Bears the driving competitive attacking system that Meningie have been looking for all season.

They will need to be all of those things, as they line up against Tailem's Emily Edwards, Georgia Exton and Lucy Pett across the midcourt area.

These six players will give spectators some spectacular challenges for ball possession throughout the majority of the court area.

Both teams have a lot of belief and both teams would love nothing more that to take out the win this week.

After this game both teams have one more game to play this season, because both clubs still have one more bye.

Tailem Bend will have the strength of player selection to take out the win this week, regardless of who plays for Meningie.