WITHOUT doubt the two stand out teams in the Horsham District league’s A Grade competition this season has been Laharum and Natimuk United.
The Demons finished the season undefeated, while the Ewes’ only loss came against Laharum in round nine.
The two sides have met plenty of times in finals netball the past few years, with the Ewes having won all four finals games the teams have played since the 2015 season.
That run has included a qualifying final and grand final in 2015, a semi-final in 2016 and a preliminary final last season.
Laharum co-coach Caitlin Story hoped her side could overturn recent finals results against Natimuk United on Saturday.
“They’ve beaten us in a few finals so we are looking forward to trying to get a bit of a revenge,” she said.
“It has hurt but this one is not an elimination final so hopefully we won’t have as much pressure on ourselves. We will go out there and play our game and if it works it works.”
Story said last season’s finals series in which the side went out after two consecutive finals losses was behind them.
LAST TIME THEY MET: Laharum surges to win against Natimuk United | Gallery
“We haven’t really spoken about what happened last year and it hurt a lot so I’m sure the girls have learnt a lesson from it,” she said.
“Hopefully we just go out there and play the game we have been all year. I’m sure the hurt from last year will be in the back of some of the girls’ minds and I hope it is, but we are hoping to move forward too.”
Ewes coach Cheryl Sudholz said Laharum had been a formidable opponent this season.
“We didn’t really prepare very well for the game in round nine and we knew what the physicality would be like but it still took us by surprise,” she said.
“They played really well and we didn’t play to our full potential. I think we are in the right frame of mind going into this week.”
The Ewes are an experienced outfit when it comes to finals netball, something that could play to their advantage.
“We have to hope we have done enough to counteract them and think quickly and hopefully play well,” she said.
“We don’t like the week off so we have been trying to have enough court practice just to make sure we don’t go in a bit lacklustre. I think we have prepared as well as we can.”
Story said a key match-up would be between her side’s goal keeper Rebecca McIntyre and Natimuk United shooter Shannon Couch.
“That will be the most influential match-up; if we can stop the passes into Shannon and Rebecca does her best to get her hand on a few passes going in, we think that will go a long way in us winning,” she said.
“Because they are so experienced and know each other inside out, defensive pressure down the court will be another thing we will focus on.
“We expect a big crowd and Natimuk United always has a big crowd, but we are hoping for a lot of supporters cheering us too. We will just have to zone out the sidelines and focus on the court.”
The Ewes will have a full side to choose from at the weekend, while Laharum will be without Aily McAuliffe, who has a broken finger.