Epic battle for premiership win
Horsham District netball fans have been treated to a scintillating A Grade finals series and Saturday’s premiership decider should be no different.
Harrow-balmoral has enjoyed a week off after defeating Laharum in a thrilling second semi-final, while Natimuk United will look to continue its momentum following a bigger-than-predicted preliminary final victory – also over the Demons.
The stage is set for an epic battle between two of the competition’s most experienced and unflappable teams.
The ability to maintain grace under fire has paid off for both sides this season, but who will do it better come 3.30pm Saturday?
The teams have met once this season, with the Ewes winning by five goals in round 10.
Natimuk United playing coach Cheryl Sudholz said previous encounters and form counted for little.
“We won last time but the lead changed every quarter,” she said.
“This week it could come down to the last minute.”
Sudholz said she was surprised by the 11-goal margin in her side’s preliminary final victory.
“I watched Harrow-balmoral and Laharum the week before and that’s the type of game I was expecting,” she said.
“After such a strong first and second quarter I knew there was no way we could let our guard down.
“We were determined to keep a 10goal lead and we did it.”
But Sudholz does not expect a repeat performance this week.
“It will all come down to what happens at the ends of the court,” she said.
The Ewes have relied on shooter Shannon Couch to secure the bulk of the side’s goals, but young goal attack Amy Pilgrim stood up against the Demons last week, slotting 23 of 51 goals.
“Amy is a fantastic goalie,” Sudholz said. “Usually we all look to Shannon, but with Rebecca Mcintyre matching up on her with similar height, we knew Amy had to put up more goals and Shannon could position herself for any rebounds. It worked really well.”
Pilgrim will need to share the load again this week and will need to get around the powerful defensive combination of Harrow-balmoral coach Ebonie Salter and Kate Vickery.
Defence will be key for both teams on Saturday.
Harrow-balmoral goalies Sarah Cleaver and Sara Mccuish stood up against Laharum and will need to do the same against experienced Ewes defenders Casey Vanstan and Caitlyn Batson.
Natimuk United has stepped up its defensive pressure down the court in the past couple of weeks and Sudholz will want her charges to continue to capitalise on any turnovers.
Salter agreed a competitive match was on the cards.
“It’s been really even all year and right through the finals,” she said.
“It will all come down to who is having a good day – that’s what happened on Saturday between Laharum and Natimuk.
“I’m not surprised Natimuk is in, they are always really tough, but it could have gone any way in the top five or six.”
Salter said her charges had benefitted from a week off. “We’re all feeling good,” she said. “We’ve had a chance to refocus and regroup.
“We had to rebuild this year after we lost a few players and reshuffled a few positions.
“Our goal was to get to the grand final and we’re really happy to get there.
“We are where we wanted to be.”