A THRILLING, high-scoring encounter is in store for this Saturday’s Heathcote District Netball Association A-grade grand final according to the two teams’ coaches.
Foundation clubs Colbinabbin and Mount Pleasant will meet in the HDNA’s 50th anniversary season decider, with the teams almost impossible to separate.
Mounts had the edge over the Grasshoppers in both regular season matches, but Colbinabbin’s finals form has stunned the competition.
Colbinabbin won its last two matches of the season to finish third and then shocked Mounts 43-41 in the qualifying final.
The Grasshoppers then went on to topple White Hills – which had only lost once previously all season – 43-38 in the second-semi to advance to Saturday’s decider at Hy-Line Australia Oval in Huntly.
Colbinabbin coach Anne McEvoy said her team had gradually built towards the back end of the season and was peaking at the right time.
“We’ve evolved as the year’s gone on. We’ve got a couple of Melbourne-based players and it’s just taken us a while to hit form,” McEvoy said.
“We’ve lost more games than the teams above us and I think you learn from losses. In that regard I think we’ve been building momentum and that momentum is gaining speed now.”
Colbinabbin – whose most recent A-grade title was in 2009 – will be out to spoil Mounts’ chase for back-to-back flags.
Mounts ended a 21-year premiership drought last season and coach Mandy Burrill was confident in her team, but also well aware of Colbinabbin’s ability.
“It’s going to come down to the final minute to see who’s got it, I’d say. Even though we’d like to go out strong and get a good lead, Colbinabbin is definitely not a side to underestimate and they showed us that at the start of the finals series,” Burrill said.
“We’ve changed our game plan a bit from what we’ve done in the other finals. They’re a really strong side, both teams are really evenly balanced.
“It’s an absolute credit to Colbo.
“They have extremely strong defenders and extremely strong goalers – and we do too, so that’s why I’d say it’s going to come right down to the wire.”
The match could well be decided by which team’s attacking end performs best.
Colbinabbin goalshooter Olivia McEvoy took out the HDNA A-grade best and fairest at the weekend and her match-up with 2011 best and fairest Bridget Chambers (nee Tuohey) will be pivotal.
“Olivia was very deserving (of the award), she’s a fantastic player with a lot of experience for someone her age and very talented,” Burrill said.
“But Bridget Chambers has had a solid season and she’s absolutely firing in the finals, so that’ll be a fantastic contest to watch in itself.”
At the other end of the court will be the imposing figure of Gabe Richards, the Bendigo Spirit basketballer who is also a standout netballer.
“There’s no doubt (stopping Richards) is important, but I think more important is you’ve got to concentrate on your own attack end,” McEvoy said.
“It’s going to be high-scoring, if you look back at their scores they score high, so it’s relevant that we score high as well.
“Mounts’ strength you would say is their bookends – their goaler and keeper – but I think we’ve got the mid-court which is potentially our strength.
“We started off well against them last time and that’s the position we need to be in again.”
The A-grade grand final starts at 3pm on Saturday following an incredible string of grand finals between Colbinabbin and Mount Pleasant in the lower grades.
HDNA A-grade squads – Mount Pleasant – Anthea Griffin, Gabe Richards, Bridget Tuohey, Georgia Cross, Carine Hunt, Abbey Dorrington, Andrea Wilson, Amanda Naish.
Colbinabbin – Felicity Ryan, Olivia McEvoy, Alisha Leslie, Eloise Cuttriss, Zoe O’Brien, Jess Millar, Holly Guerra, Rachel Bull.