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MARYBOROUGH 17-and-under captain Ella Tranter is confident her side can create a slice of club and BFNL league history in Saturday’s grand final.
The Magpies take on Sandhurst in the 2017 grand final and are chasing their first premiership in any grade of netball since 1996.
It goes without saying, given the amount of years that have passed, that none of the grand final squad was even born when the Magpies’ won that B-grade flag.
But Tranter said the team would enter the clash with confidence following finals wins over Golden Square and Kangaroo Flat, which finished the home and away season as the top two sides.
“The first half of both games were really tough, but we pushed really hard in the second half and came out with wins,” she said.
“We’ve had two really tough games against Sandhurst this year, so I’m sure it’s going to be another one this weekend.
“They are really quick with their passing and transitioning down the court – they’re a strong team all over the court.”
Tranter, whose teammates include twin sister and 2017 league best and fairest Maggie Tranter, admitted to having equal doses of nerves and excitement ahead of the big game.
With two busloads of supporters making the trip across to Bendigo for the game and plenty more well-wishes received during the week, Tranter said the players were keen to repay the support.
She said those sentiments went double for the team’s coaches Jordan MacIlwain and Chloe Egan.
“All the girls know the coaches outside of netball, so we are really close with them,” Tranter said.
“And some of the girls have played with them up in A-grade.
“They’ve been really fair and supportive of us all year and been great at developing us junior players into the senior grades.”
Five of the team - Keely Hare, who was a BFNL 17-and-under inter-league player this season, Tori Chandler, Brandy Santon and both Tranter twins – have appeared at A-grade level this year.
The clash will be the Magpies’ first on grand final day since their junior team reached the grand final in 2010.
Joint coach Egan said there was no doubt the girls had fully deserved their crack at a grand final.
“The two finals wins were definitely strong, especially against Golden Square, we didn’t expect to come out with that (21-goal) margin,” she said.
“Golden Square is another great side, one we’ve had some really tough tussles with.
“But we just put full faith in our girls and a credit to them because they came out and brought it on the day and played some really strong netball.”
Fellow coach Macilwain said given the tight nature of the season, everything pointed to another close final.
But the Magpies star A-grade goal shooter said she and Egan had every confidence in the girls’ abilities to deliver the club a morale-boosting premiership win.
“We’ve had belief in the girls all season, but they’ve only started to hit their straps about half way through,” she said.
“It will depend on what Sandhurst bring to us on the day and how focused, settled and committed we are to each other on the day.
“We haven’t had a tremendous amount of success in the past, but coming into the final we know we have lots of people coming over to watch us and the whole club has been really enthusiastic and right behind the girls.”
The 17-under grand final between Maryborough and Sandhurst starts at 9am.