Kangaroo Flat and Golden Square set for epic BFNL A-grade netball battle

Captains Karly Elvey and Belinda Pinner had time to share a joke this week, but it will be serious business when the BFNL A-grade netball premiership is decided on Saturday. Picture: DARREN HOWE

Captains Karly Elvey and Belinda Pinner had time to share a joke this week, but it will be serious business when the BFNL A-grade netball premiership is decided on Saturday. Picture: DARREN HOWE

AFTER 90 home and away matches and five finals, it all comes down to this.

The stage is set for a cracking BFNL A-grade netball grand final between Kanagaroo Flat and Golden Square.

An intriguing premiership decider at the QEO will pit the 2016 season's dominant force against the reigning premiers.

It's also a battle between easily the competition's most settled line-up in Kangaroo Flat, against a Golden Square team that has slowly worked its way back to full-strength.

They say timing is everything in sport.

And so it appears so for the Bulldogs, who appear to be peaking at the right time.

They know it - and so do their opponents.

Roos coach Janelle Hobbs has acknowledged the Bulldogs had certainly hit their straps in recent weeks and would be a formidable foe.

But she also has supreme confidence in her own side's ability to capitalise on a dominant season that brought 17 wins, including a final, a draw and only one loss.

"I think we've been the best side all year, but that doesn't matter if we don't come out and perform," Hobbs said.

"We've been consistent all year in our line-ups - that starting seven I have are very strong.

"We have that depth there on the bench if we need it, but I haven't had to go to the bench all year.

"So, I'm confident our starting seven can get the job done."

Roos skipper Karly Elvey, who is chasing a fifth A-grade premiership with the club, agreed that the team's steady line-up was their greatest strength.

"I think that will work in our favour having that consistent seven players," she said.

"This year there's a good feel around the place.

"It's a young, fit and agile team that I'm playing with."

Chelsea Sartori and Karly Elvey front the media. Picture: DARREN HOWE

Chelsea Sartori and Karly Elvey front the media. Picture: DARREN HOWE

While the Roos' starting line-up of defenders Zoe Davies and Alicia McGlashon, wing defence Millie Wicks, centre Chelsea Sartori, wing attack Alvey, goal attack Jamie-Lee Clohesy and star young goal shooter Ruby Barkmeyer could not be more settled, Golden Square's has been anything but this season.

The Bulldogs have made do without their own star in attack Gabe Richards for parts of the season, while sisters Ashley and Abbey Ryan have balanced commitments in the VNL with duties for the Bulldogs.

Golden Square's Ashley Ryan. Picture: GLENN DANIELS

Golden Square's Ashley Ryan. Picture: GLENN DANIELS

The late season return of Allira Hammond, who was best on court in the Bulldogs' 2015 flag win, has been equally as important to the side's structure and performance, slotting in to a defence that has plenty of star power in Meg Gilbert.

While the Roos enter the match having played just the one finals game in a 28-day period, the Bulldogs will enter the match battle hardened by three finals matches.

Captain Belinda Pinner said the side had taken plenty of positives out of finals wins against Sandhurst and Gisborne and even an earlier finals loss to the Dragons.

"The best thing about our game (last) Saturday was the consistency," she said.

"We put four good quarters together which we have struggled with this season. That was a real positive."

It's clear much of the planning from both camps has revolved around the Bulldogs' high profile goal shooter and her influence on games.

Richards, who will be opposed by class inter-league defender Davies, did not play in either of the Bulldogs' two losses to the Roos this season and is viewed as a potential difference maker.

But Elvey backed her teammates not to be intimidated and could draw positives from the situation.

"Zoe had one game against Gabe last year and Alicia's had none, so it is a bit of an unknown for them," she said.

"But the way I see it Gabe doesn't know how they play either.

"It will be a bit of adjusting for both, not just our defenders."

I'm confident our starting seven can get the job done. - Janelle Hobbs

Kangaroo Flat has its own "not-so secret weapon" in attack in Barkmeyer.

The teenager was an undisputed winner of the Rising Star award and led her older teammates in the league medal count with 17 votes.

She has played with a poise and maturity beyond her young years and will aim to cap a memorable year.

Barkmeyer won't be the only worry for Bulldogs coach Lia Marrone.

Kangaroo Flat's Ruby Barkmeyer. Picture: GLENN DANIELS

Kangaroo Flat's Ruby Barkmeyer. Picture: GLENN DANIELS

"Karly Elvey is going to be a tough competitor and we'll really need to shut her down," she said.

"Zoe Davies has had a really good season and she'll be one to look out for."

The Roos and Bulldogs have shared the past two premierships between them and also five of the past seven.

Marrone said the chance to claim back-to-back flags, on a day when the Bulldogs have three of their five teams involved in netball grand finals, would give her side added motivation.

With both teams boasting such potent options in the goal circle, the battle of the midcourts looms as a game-changer.

Bullodgs captain Belinda Pinner and coach Lia Marrone. Picture: DARREN HOWE

Bullodgs captain Belinda Pinner and coach Lia Marrone. Picture: DARREN HOWE

Roos centre Sartori said her and Wicks would need to be at the top of their game to counter a classy opposition.

"Ash Ryan is so fast and can feed to Gabe really well as well," she said.

"Millie and I are going to have to really work hard to make sure they don't get the ball to Gabe."

Pinner was equally looking forward to her battle against Sartori.

“Chelsea is an amazing player .. (my job) will be to stop her drive in their attack and trying to beat her up our end. It will be a great challenge for me,” she said.

TIPPING PANEL

Kieran Iles

Winner - Golden Square (one goal)

Best on court: -Ashley Ryan

Luke West

Winner: - Kangaroo Flat (two goals)

Best on court – Chelsea Sartori

Adam Bourke

Winner: Kangaroo Flat (four goals)

Best on court - Zoe Davies

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