THE Busselton Magpies Under 18's side faced a tough match-up against Bunbury Bulldogs this week.
With hard work from centre court players Jaymee Dahlenberg and Ash Farmer, as well as great defence from Sunny Manners, the Magpies gained a strong five-goal lead by the first quarter break. In the second quarter, Shooters Mia Pethybridge and Sophie Brandis worked hard to keep possessions, receiving precise feeds from centre Imogen Milner.
The third quarter proved hard for the Magpies, with some unforced errors putting the Bulldogs in the lead by three goals. In the last quarter, the Magpies came with renewed drive and grit, with Shukia Riley, Georgia O'Neill and Olivia Haslam providing smooth flow and pace down court, giving the Magpies needed rhythm to their play. Strong defensive pressure from wing defence Hannah Taylor gained her a well earned intercept, which put the Magpies back in the game.
The Busselton side fought hard until the end, keeping their possessions and capitalising on their turnovers. The final score was 51-49, a well-deserved win to the Magpies. This now puts the Magpies in second place. Best player was awarded to centre court and defensive player Ash Farmer.
The reserves also had a hard fought game, staying defensively strong with Andrea King, Tammy Thornley and Yasmin Riley keeping the pressure on, which allowed the girls to keep the gap close throughout the first three quarters. Trailing by eight at three-quarter time called for a lift in intensity and a level head. The Magpies fought out a tough and physical fourth quarter, managing to come away with a win in the dying minutes. Best player went to WD, Sophie Moustaka, who showed strength and determination in every play, holding up the centre court for much of the game.
The league game was always going to be an extremely tough game with an undermanned team and five players having already played in either 18’s or reserves. With a new line up the Magpies made a shaky start while the Bunbury Bulldogs raced away to an early lead taking the quarter by eight goals.
The Magpies quickly regrouped and every player lifted their intensity as the match went on.
Ashlee Ritson who had been swung into WD and Taneika Handley at Centre put some pressure on the feed in and with great defence from Tammy Thornley and Sasha Bradley they made the Bulldogs goalies work for the ball and created some turnovers. Rennie Sansom now at WA was able to settle the attack line up and Maia Bratton and Mia Pethybridge were hitting their shots and were starting to work together. This fantastic team effort resulted in their best quarter with the Magpies outscoring the Bulldogs 13-11. After the half time break the Bulldogs hit back and showed why they won the grand final last year. The Magpies started to look tired and although they may have been outplayed on the day, there were some passages of play that showed why they are currently second on the ladder and will only improve from here; with added strength from state league players coming back into the squad and as they work out their court mechanics with more games together they will be a force to be reckoned with.
Stellar and the Chief best player went to Ashlee Ritson, while coach Tash O’Neill made special mention of Maia Bratton’s efforts at GA and leadership on court.