Top Forsythes shooter leaves big shoes to fill

FINALS RIVALS: Forsythes defender Angela Williams and BNC's Sam Belcher at National Park on Friday.

FINALS RIVALS: Forsythes defender Angela Williams and BNC's Sam Belcher at National Park on Friday.

Forsythes have a mountain to climb in Saturday’s Newcastle Open Championship netball minor semi-final against BNC after losing star shooter Sabina Gamboso and a host of other players.

The towering Gamboso, who has helped Hunter United dominate the Netball NSW Metro League in Sydney this year, is away on a work skiing trip.  

Forsythes coach Traci Baber, who also coaches Hunter, is sweating on Gamboso returning in one piece from her first trip to the snow.

“I can teach girls lots of things, but I can’t make them six-foot-two,” Baber said.   

Gamboso’s absence is not Baber’s only headache.

She has only seven Forsythes players available on Saturday and will have to play some of them out of position.

“Forsythes have never had a year like this before, and pretty much the whole one end,” she said.

“We’ve crawled into the semis. We’ll put seven girls on court tomorrow. We’ll do the best we can.” 

Mid-courter Karlie Robards, who also plays for Hunter United, may have to move into the defensive circle against BNC. 

Forsythes, who finished third, beat fourth-placed BNC 44-43 two weeks ago.

Kelsey Moss played in last week’s 32-29 win over Souths Pride and is likely to fill in for Gamboso in attack. 

Goal defence Angela Williams said her side would do their best to overcome the setbacks.

“Everyone that’s still there are all quality players, so hopefully we can put it together and keep going,” the 18-year-old Open Championship rookie said.

“Sabina’s away. She’s definitely an asset, but we’ll see what we can do without her.”   

BNC mid-courter Sam Belcher, who has returned to netball this year after having four children, said her side would not take the depleted Forsythes line-up lightly.  

“It changes the game a little bit. There’s a lot of depth in this grade. I’m sure they’ll be fielding an impressive side,” she said. 

“We’ll have a team dinner tonight and go through our game plan.”

Minor premiers Wests Leagues, who have six Hunter United division-one players on their books, play Souths Lions next week in the major semi-final.

Meanwhile, Hunter United thrashed Bankstown City 56-35 on Thursday to open up a nine-point lead at the top of the Metro League ladder.

Hunter, who lost centre Sophie Buckley to a stomach bug on the way to the game, have not lost to any of the other sides in the top four.

Last year, Hunter were on the fringe of the division-two top four before finally securing second place and knocking off minor premiers Illawarra in the final.

But Baber said Hunter were now the team to beat, especially after second-placed Illawarra and Eastwood Ryde both lost on Thursday.

“That’s everybody at us now,” she said.

The Hunter United Diamonds, who play in division four, smashed Northern Suburbs 44-27 on Monday night to lock up second place and are undefeated in the second half of the season.  

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