Spirit to meet Fire in final

FOR the second-straight season the Bendigo Spirit will meet the Townsville Fire in the WNBL grand final.

The Fire advanced to the championship game with a thrilling 74-71 win over the Dandenong Rangers in Sunday's preliminary final.

The Fire hadn't beaten Dandenong in three games this season, but won the game that mattered most.

The Fire's depth was the difference, with five players scoring in double figures, led by Steph Cumming (15 points), Suzie Batkovic (13 points, 16 rebounds) and Rachel McCully (13 points).

Dandenong star Jenna O'Hea was superb yet again, scoring a game-high 27 points.

Leilani Mitchell and Alice Kunek added 15 points each, but the Rangers' second-tier players had little impact offensively.

Spirit coach Bernie Harrower was courtside to watch the preliminary final.

"It could have gone either way,'' Harrower said.

"It was neck and neck the whole game really.

"It wouldn't have mattered either way who won. Both teams are very good and they're evenly matched.

"The grand final will come down to who gets the job done on the day."

Townsville coach Chris Lucas was looking forward to another crack at the Spirit.

"I'm so proud of the girls,'' Lucas told  the ABC after the win.

"We'll enjoy tonight, head back to Townsville in the morning and then come back (to Victoria) on Thursday or Friday.

"To have two regional teams in the grand final again is great for the game."

The Fire will attempt to become the first Townsville-based sporting club to win a national championship.

Harrower said the Spirit won't change its preparation for the grand final.

"Our program will be the same as it would be for a normal Sunday game,'' Harrower said.

"We'll train either Monday or Tuesday night and again on Thursday night.

"We'll have Friday off and then another session on Saturday in the lead up to Sunday's grand final."

Grand final tickets for the general public go on sale on Tuesday at 9am. Adult tickets are $49.50, concession $35 and children $28.

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