In­tense en­coun­ters

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Sport - BY SARAH SCULLY

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.

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