Sea Lake Nandaly Tigers looking for historic first North Central netball premiership

JOINT Sea Lake Nandaly Tigers coach Jodi Cox has urged her players to make the most of their history-making opportunity in Saturday’s NCNA A-grade grand final.

The Tigers will be making their first appearance in a grand final since joining the North Central association two years ago, following the disbandment of the Mallee league.

They will challenge perennial powerhouse Wedderburn, which is aiming to rebound after its run of six consecutive premierships was ended last season by Charlton in extra-time.

The Tigers won through to the grand final with a 51-39 preliminary final win over Boort last weekend.

With three losses against the Redbacks this season, Cox – who shares the coaching duties with on-court stars Abby Walklate and Ash Roberts – said the Tigers would enter the grand final as undisputed underdogs.

“But who knows what might happen – last year we played them in the home and away season, we were up during the game and lost by only a goal,” she said.

“So it can be done, it’s just a matter of having everyone switched on on the day.

“Wedderburn is an amazing club – they are a really nice bunch of girls on and off the court – and very talented.

“We will have to bring our best game to even get close, but fingers crossed with the luck of finals, things can  go our way.”

The Tigers finished their inaugural season in the league in 2016 in third place behind Charlton and Wedderburn.

An undoubted difference in their rise to grand finalists, according to Cox, has been the stellar form of goal shooter Nakia Nunn, who was this year’s league best and fairest.

“I think having a bit of a powerhouse as one of your shooters has been a standout for us, you can’t win the game unless the ball goes through the hoop,” she said.

“She’s really stepped up for us.

“She’s still only a young girl, just 18, but such a talented player and a local girl too.

“Even though she goes to uni now, she still comes home to play, so we are lucky to have that happen.”

Other key players for the Tigers will be fellow coaches Walklate at goal attack and goal defence Roberts, who both represented North Central at interleague this season, and young centre Ebony McLean.

Cox, who finished playing A-grade at the end of last season, believed the three-coach set-up, while unique, had worked well for the Tigers.

“Because I am off the court, I see it a bit different to how they see it,” she said.

“It’s interesting bouncing ideas off each other and it takes a bit of weight off us all.”

In what is a historic day for the club, Sea Lake Nandaly Tigers will also be represented in the junior A-grade premiership decider.

Not unlike their senior counterparts, the Tiger cubs will be looking to bounce back from a second semi-final loss to the Redbacks and will enter the match as underdogs.

Regardless of grand final results, Cox believed the move to the North Central had definitely been the right one for the Tigers.

“Last year we had four out of five teams get into the first semi and only one team get into the prelim, this year we’ve had four get into the prelim and two into the grand final,” she said.

“We’ve been pretty competitive (from the start) – Saturday will be very exciting for us.”

TOMORROW: The Addy profiles Wedderburn, which has all six netball teams involved in grand finals.