Laharum’s A Grade will learn if its season-long focus on discipline and professionalism has paid off when it plays reigning premier Natimuk United for a grand final berth on Saturday.
The Demons have been one of the standout sides for the past few seasons but have been unable to capture Horsham District A Grade’s ultimate prize.
Based on results this season, the minor premier deserves a grand final spot. But as everyone knows, success during the home-and-away season only gets you so far, with players needing to adapt to the heightened pressure, intensity and atmosphere of finals, along with different umpires.
The Demons are strong across the board, both in body and skillset. They will start favourite against the Ewes at Natimuk, having won their only encounter this season by 11 goals.
However, any team would be foolish to underestimate the reigning premiers.
Natimuk United has a wealth of finals experience along with a reputation for strong team unity and staying calm under pressure.
The Ewes will take a steady approach this week, going about business as usual as they look to capitalise on any mistakes the Demons make.
Spectators should be treated to a mouth-watering clash between the league’s top two sides.
Expect a great battle between Natimuk United defenders Jo Taylor and Casey Vanstan and Laharum goalies Caitlin Story and Maddie Iredell. Both duos are probably the best respective combinations in the league and will fight for every ball.
But it is a match-up at the other end of the court likely to have the most bearing on the game as Laharum keeper Rebecca Mcintyre and shooter Shannon Couch go head to head.
Mcintyre is the only defender to match Couch for height so she will need to be accurate to avoid fighting for rebounds.
This match could go either way. Regardless, the loser will have another chance to fight their way through to the last dance during a preliminary final the following week.
Still in the race
Harrow-balmoral and Edenhope-apsley kept their finals campaigns alive with wins at the weekend and will clash at Taylors Lake on Sunday.
The Southern Roos defeated Kalkee comfortably on Saturday, pulling away after a tight first quarter to win 51-29.
Amy Lewis slotted an impressive 40 goals while centre Megan Russell and defender Ebonie Salter impressed. The Kees were best served by defenders Clair Mcdonald and Coco Ledgar.
The Saints came up trumps against Swifts by five goals, 47-42, in a frantic encounter at Rupanyup. Edenhope-apsley used a 17-goal-to-nine second term to set up the win. Cynthia Watt was fantastic as the last line of defence while teammate Ash Ryan and her Swifts counterpart Courtney Morrow enjoyed a good battle all day.
Swifts will look to build on their first finals experience in 16 years next season, while the Saints march on to their next challenge – the Roos.
The Saints will look to play their fast style while the Roos will look to control the match with their calm, defensive approach.
Both sides have one dominant goalie and will need support from their partner, particularly the Saints, as defenders Salter and Ella Rees will focus on cutting off feeds to Krystal Schapel.
This game should also be a good one, but the Roos are likely to be too strong and survive to play another week.
STRONG: Harrow-balmoral defender Ebonie Salter will be an important player on Sunday.