AFTER a week of positive reinforcement, Bendigo Thunder coach Russell Jeffrey is confident his team can break its Victorian Women’s Football League finals hoodoo this Sunday and keep its premiership dream alive.
The Thunder meets North Ballarat in Sunday’s preliminary final at La Trobe Uni.
Bendigo last week squandered the chance to move straight through to the grand final after suffering its first loss of the season with a 27-point defeat to La Trobe Uni in the second semi-final.
Last week’s loss still has the Thunder striving for their first win in a final, having last year been knocked out in straight sets in their debut season.
However, rather than focus on the disappointment of last Sunday’s second semi-final loss, Jeffrey has this week drilled into his players that good sides don’t lose their ability overnight.
And having gone through the home and away season without a loss, there’s no doubt the Thunder are a good side.
“Obviously, we were disappointed we didn’t win last week, and to be honest, it was probably a good wake-up call for the girls and they know they have to really stand up this Sunday if they want to get through to the grand final,” Jeffrey said yesterday.
“We haven’t dwelled too much on the negatives of last week. We’ve focussed on the positives, one of which is we’re one of the most skilful teams in the competition.
“I’m very confident the girls can get back to the type of footy they’re capable of playing and it’s going to be a matter of whether our best is better than Ballarat’s.”
The Thunder are 2-0 this season against North Ballarat, with one of those wins the controversial victory in round two when the Eagles walked off the field with three minutes remaining in the game after concerns for their player welfare.
“There’s a bit of history there between the clubs,” Jeffrey said.
“To be honest, despite what happened in that first game – and the issues out of that game have never been made clear to me – I rate Ballarat as just as physical as any side in the competition.
“I watched a bit of their game last week and there’s no doubt they are a competitive outfit in all facets of footy, so we’re expecting a very tough encounter on Sunday.”
North Ballarat last week kept its season alive with a three-point win over an inaccurate North Geelong in the first semi-final.
Sunday’s game starts at 2pm, with the winner to go on and meet reigning premier La Trobe Uni in the grand final the following Sunday.