St. Josephs’ unbeaten run came to a crashing halt on Saturday with a 17-goal loss to a ruthless Railways side in a match that was at times extremely physical.
Spectators coming into court one during the early part of the second quarter were shocked to see Railways leading by fourteen goals.
The reason behind this lay in Railways goal circle. The reigning premiers were without the services of Libby Harrison and Tylah Jackson in defence, and were forced to put accomplished defender Sam Kondraciuk back there along with veteran Beaudine Dallasanta.
Coach Erin Heron also had to take the court in the midcourt.
However, the absence of a second agile defender, plus a lack of height, enabled Courtney Nowack and Claire Schupelius to thrive, and when you add in the quality of Ange McAuliffe, Peytie Fuller, Laurie Haines and Mikalya Fuller; it is easy to see how this game went Railways way.
In the context of the season, this is an undoubted boost to Railways. However, the absence of so many players (three, including Leah Carling) meant that St. Josephs were very undermanned. When they have a full side at their disposal when the two sides meet again, that will tell a truer story.
It was not the fact that Vikings defeated Magpies by a whopping eighteen goals that was the big story in the other match.
It was the fact that the winners for the first time in 2017 won all four quarters. The first quarter was goal for goal as Vikings went in a goal up at quarter time.
However, Vikings blew the game open when they won the second by ten goals. They also won the final two by four goals in each.
They decided to go with strength and experience in the goal circle with Mikalya Hudson pairing up with Tiana Freeman.
That meant that talented young goalie Lara Etchells started in the pivotal Centre bib. She made mistakes early, but after the first quarter was out of the way, did everything that a pleased coach Haley Harris asked of her in a solid performance.
Vikings had winners all over the court, but by contrast Magpies were very erratic at times. Perhaps the constant strain of competing week in, week out in this grade is taking its toll because this is the second week running that this young side has struggled against more experienced opponents.
The week off will allow coach Jasmin Eckert and her youngsters to recharge the batteries and regroup in the run to finals.
Just like A Grade, the unbeaten run of one team, Railways, almost came to an end at the hands of a superb Vikings side that bounced back in no uncertain terms after a string of poor performances.
At one point, they led by eight goals, only to see Railways come back and get seven up in the third. Then Vikings bounced back and led by a couple several times in a thrilling last quarter before Railways managed to score the winning goal in the dying moments of a great game.
In the other game, there was a thrilling draw between Magpies and St. Joseph. As these two teams currently sit fourth and fifth on the ladder currently, that won’t change things, but it does keep Magpies in the hunt for fourth spot if they can string a couple of ins together before finals.
In the Under 15s this week Railways defeated a struggling Magpies outfit by 12 goals who remain on one win for the season. In another blow out a strong Vikings team defeated a bottom place Shamrocks. Vikings are nipping at the heels of Quorn, just one point outside the top three.
St. Josephs remain on top of the ladder and ahead by two points having only dropped one game for the season.
With a break this week, St. Josephs look ahead to round 11 where they face second place Railways who are looking to take top spot.