Natimuk team to beat
With Horsham District netball finals starting on Saturday, the question on everybody’s lips is, ‘who can stop Natimuk United?’
The Ewes have primed themselves for an assault on a third straight A Grade premiership with an undefeated home and away campaign.
The most likely challenger appears to be Laharum, which has consistently pushed the Ewes to the brink of defeat during the past two seasons, but Harrow-balmoral also looms as a premiership smoky after overcoming an injury-riddled year.
Swifts have continued their feelgood transformation from competition punching bag to perennial finals contender, while 2018 preliminary finalist Edenhope-apsley and Kalkee round out the top six.
The Ewes showed the gulf between themselves and the lower reaches of the six by dismantling the Kees 67-29 at the weekend.
The experience of Natimuk United’s many veterans showed through as a 52-goal performance from goal shooter Shannon Couch led the rout.
Kalkee will now regroup ahead of the finals but can draw confidence from the strong attacking
play of midcourter Rianna Kuhne and shooter Hayley Thomas.
Laharum also recorded a win against Edenhope-apsley, although it came in bizarre cirumstances.
The Demons led 44-13 when the Saints decided to forfeit the match.
Four Saints, including co-coaches Ellie Thomas and Sarah Domaschenz, were sidelined with injuries during the game and decided to abandon it to the preserve themselves for finals.
Harrow-balmoral made short work of Jeparit-rainbow after a relatively close first half, extending an eight-goal advantage at the long break to 20 by the final whistle.
Amy Lewis connected on 36 shots in the goal ring, with Brittany Keller starting alongside her at goal attack before switching to goal defence in the final quarter.
With coach Ebonie Salter sitting the game out, young Roo Olivia Muldoon earned playing time at wing attack and goal attack.
Jeparit-rainbow experimented with its line-up during the 55-35 loss, with all players except goal attack Breanna Eastick swapping bibs at least once during the afternoon.
Swifts put the final touches on a fourth-place finish with a 59-42 win against Rupanyp, driven by defenders Erin Freeland and Sarah Morris.
It was a competitive final showing for the 1-15 Panthers, who have dealt with injuries throughout the year.
Rupanyup coach and goal defence Kayla Woods was again solid, while Emma Downes impressed at goal attack.
Noradjuha-quantong missed the finals but ended its season on a high note in a 53-35 victory against Taylors Lake.
Lucy Brand and Louisa Vague were the Bombers’ best, while Grace Dixon continued to be one of the Lakers’ leading lights in defence.
Elimination finals kick off this weekend with Harrow-balmoral taking on Kalkee at North Park, Stawell, on Saturday, while Swifts and Edenhope-apsley will do battle at Kalkee on Sunday.
See the 20-page liftout in today’s The Weekly Advertiser for full finals previews.
ON TARGET: Natimuk United veteran Shannon Couch shot 52 goals in her side’s 67-29 win against Kalkee at the weekend.