Epic bat­tle for premier­ship win

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Sport - BY SARAH SCULLY

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.”

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