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28 August 2019
By Colin MacGillivray
A long-awaited rematch between Horsham District netball superpowers Natimuk United and Laharum will headline the second round of finals this weekend.
The Ewes, gunning for a third straight A Grade premiership, will have their hands full against a fit, rested and fired up Laharum.
The Demons have been on the wrong end of some heartbreaking finals losses to Natimuk United in recent years and lost by two goals in their only meeting this season, but are confident in their ability to create an upset.
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Both sides have elite talent at either end of the court.
Spectators at Jeparit could be treated to a shootout between two of the competition’s best goal shooters on Saturday, as Laharum’s Caitlin Story and Natimuk United’s Shannon Couch attempt to outdo each other.
Matching up on Story and Couch respectively will be Ewe Casey Vanstan and Demon Rebecca McIntyre.
Twins Maddie and Ema Iredell play key roles for the Demons at either end of the court, with Maddie excelling alongside Story at goal attack and Ema forming an excellent defensive tandem with McIntyre.
The Ewes tend to shuffle their line-up more in attack; Candice Muszkieta likely to spend time tangling with Ema Iredell.
The midcourt could be where the game is won and lost, with Michelle Trigg likely to go head-to-head with Laharum recruit Zandria Malone.
There will be plenty riding on the match, with the winner earning another week of rest and passage to the grand final, while the loser will take on the victor of Sunday’s second semi-final between Harrow-Balmoral and Edenhope-Apsley. The Roos and Saints earned their spot in the semi-final after elimination final victories at the weekend.
But the circumstances of both wins were vastly different.
Harrow-Balmoral was considered a premiership smoky entering the finals but was nearly upset by a determined Kalkee at Stawell’s North Park on Saturday.
The Kees had a two-goal lead at the first change and a one-goal lead at three-quarter time.
But the experience of the Roos won out in the last quarter as shooter Amy Lewis delivered a sensational 14 goals to help Harrow-Balmoral escape with a 47-38 win.
It capped off a big second half for Lewis, who scored 24 of her 37 goals after the long break after initially being stymied by Kalkee goal keeper Lauren Hotker.
The indefatigable Jenna Bywaters has arguably been the Kees’ best player this year and again led the side at goal attack.
She scored 18 of her team-high 20 goals through the first three quarters but, like fellow goalie Hayley Thomas, was kept quiet in the final stanza as the Roos took control of the match.
The second elimination final between Edenhope-Apsley and Swifts at Kalkee on Sunday was a different story.
The Saints led wire to wire in a 63-49 win, spearheaded by goal shooter Ellie Thomas’ 45 goals.
Edenhope-Apsley led by eight goals at quarter time and 10 by half time as, despite the best efforts of Baggies keeper Erin Freeland, Thomas continued to rack up goals.
At the other end of the court Swifts goalies Michaela Armer and Jade Ralph both played good games but were made to work for their goals by Saints Tyler Atkinson and Alarna Proffit.
Sunday’s meeting between the Saints and Roos should be an interesting one.
Their most recent meeting in round 15 resulted in an 11-goal win to Harrow-Balmoral, but if the Roos get off to a slow start as they did against Kalkee, the Saints have an excellent chance to upset them and advance to a preliminary final.
The entire August 28, 2019 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!
The entire August 28, 2019 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!