SALE should be confident heading into Saturday’s Gippsland League under 13s netball grand final against Leongatha, after failing to drop a match during the entire 18 week home-and-away season.
The Parrots, who finished second, will pull out all the stops to prevent the Magpies from securing back-to-back premierships, but the memory of Leongatha’s 37-15 thrashing by the same side only two weeks ago will still be raw.
On Saturday, the side will feature shooting skills beyond their years in under 12s state schools team player Ally Beale, who coach Bernie Dillon described as an asset to any team.
“She’s away playing state in Darwin at the moment — she gets back on Friday night, hopefully with no injuries,” Dillon laughed, nervously.
Dillon said the match up between co-captain Sienna Wynd and Leongatha’s Ada Hill in centre would be bound to produce some great netball, and hoped for defenders co-captain Abbi Boulter and Isla McCarthy to continue their great form into the final.
“They’re a terrific, strong bunch of girls, honestly, and we have two emergencies that could play anywhere in the league,” he said.
“As long as they go through their processes, do what they do best and stay in the moment, they’ll be fine.”
SALE is also odds-on favourite to win the under 15 premiership, playing against Bairnsdale.
On Monday night, the side’s key defender Olivia Barnett was rewarded for her hard work and outstanding performance this season with a Gippsland League best-and-fairest award.
On Saturday, Barnett is bound to continue her good form, taking strong intercepts and rebounds, working the ball into attack.
Coach Tori Dessent said the team’s strengths heading into the game spanned the entirety of the court, and it was planning to implement what it learned from facing the Redlegs in the semi-final.
“In the semi, we worked the ball around the ring well to made the right pass into the shooters,” Dessent said.
“Bairnsdale had a strong defensive set-up when we were trying to transition the ball from defence to attack, so at training we have been working on our transition leads and structures in order to break their defence.
“They also have accurate shooters, so we will need to make sure we are playing tight on our players to apply pressure, to try and get a stoppage or turnover before the ball gets into their goal circle.
“I think we can definitely win it, however Bairnsdale will definitely be out to knock us off the top spot we have held all year.”
MAFFRA’S under 17s side will aim to defend its 2017 premiership, when it takes to the court to face Traralgon.
Saturday’s game marks a special event for the team’s top-age players — the group has secured a premiership for the club every year since 2014, when it played together in under 13s.
In the qualifying final, Maffra suffered a crippling 12-goal loss to Traralgon after a stalemate at 39-39 led to extra time.
Maffra recouped, managing to hold their nerve to snag a comfortable 14-goal win over minor premiers Wonthaggi during the preliminary.
Saturday, newly-anointed league under 17s best-and-fairest Leyla Berry will be headlining for the side in goals, and A grade team of the year player Emma Allman will feature in midcourt.
Under 17s coach Taylah Ballinger said the team’s strength was in its shooting combination.
“We can rely on Abbey Pleydell with her accuracy under the ring and solid rebounding,” she said.
“Spectators should also keep an eye on Emma Allman — her speed and defensive pressure is amazing.
“Traralgon have a strong shooting combination but we have been able to limit them in the past, so I’m confident we can do the same on Saturday.
“We drew with them last time so I think it will be a very close game.”
MAFFRA’S C grade will be angling to repeat its 2010 premiership performance, during its silverware showdown with Traralgon.
Only losing a single game for the season, the minor premier already defeated Traralgon in the semis by nine goals, but on Saturday there is a premiership on the line.
The side boasts league best-and-fairest Sarah Edey in defence, and C grade Shooting Star award winner Anna Gaw, who is likely to tip over an impressive 700-goal tally for the season during Saturday’s clash.
Coach Maddy Sly said she felt the whole team will be confident and capable of fulfiling their roles on game day.
“In the semi-final, we were lucky to run away with it at the end, I guess it was a reflection of the team’s ability to play their own game,” Sly said.
“They put in 100 per cent for the full four quarters and it paid off.”
Sly said Traralgon had some great talent the team would be working on shutting down.
“Traralgon’s attacking end and feeding is super quick, so our defenders will have a tough job,” she said.
“We definitely have the talent and ability to go all the way.”
TRARALGON will be aiming for back-to-back A grade premierships when it meets Moe.
The Lions will be playing for its first A grade flag. The same clubs will also contest the B grade premiership
Gippsland League grand final
Saturday at Morwell Recreation Reserve:
A grade: Traralgon v Moe, 3pm.
B grade: Traralgon v Moe, 1.30pm.
C grade: Maffra v Traralgon, 12.15pm.
Under 17s: Traralgon v Maffra, 11am.
Under 15s: Sale v Bairnsdale, 9.45am.
Under 13s: Sale v Leongatha, 8.30am.