IF WE learned anything from last season’s Wimmera netball competition, it’s that ladder position means little come finals.
Horsham Saints finished the 2017 home and away season in fourth, but stormed through the finals series to win the ultimate prize.
The Saints find themselves a position lower heading into this year’s finals, below an Ararat team that notched two more wins than the Saints in 2018.
Ararat had the better of the Saints both times the teams met this year. In a round 11 thriller, the Rats turned a seven-goal three-quarter-time deficit into a one-goal win.
Rats coach Donna Spalding said finals were a completely different game, and teams went back to a clean slate.
She said respecting possession would be a key for her side in Sunday’s match.
“We can't try to get rid of it too quickly – we need to wait until opportunities are there,” she said.
“We need to be calm. I know we have the game plan to win, and it’s up to the girls to execute it.”
Spalding said she expected her players would adjust well to the finals atmosphere.
“We've got experienced people who have played for many years and are used to playing in finals,” she said.
“It might be different with a few of the younger ones, but then many of them have played in basketball tournaments and things like that, so they've grown up playing around crowds.
“And that's probably part of the reason why they're in A Grade, because they can tune that out and just do their job.”
Saints coach Shannon Reinheimer said she expected it to be a close match.
“We lost to them both times during the year, but we're yet to have a full-strength side against them. So it will be interesting to see how the match plays out this time,” she said.
“They have a very strong defensive structure, so we need to be patient working the ball into our goalies.
“They also have pretty accurate shooters, so we need to try to shut them down.”
Reinheimer said she expected a fast-paced game, and hoped the finals experience her young charges notched last season will help get them over the line on Sunday.