By Alyce Collett
After a long season, the end is nigh, but who will emerge victorious?
Will the Premiership Cup head up the mountain back to Olinda Ferny Creek for a three-peat? Or will it be heading to Cranbourne, who are the firm underdogs?
Before the Grand Final, there were two meetings between the two sides this season.
Their first meeting of the season was back in round eight, and Olinda Ferny Creek led by only three goals at the first break, before their lead kept growing for the rest of the game and in the end it was a 25 goal win.
The second meeting was in round 17, where in a similar fashion to round eight, Olinda Ferny Creek’s lead was only small (four goals in this case) at quarter time before it increased as the afternoon went along and in the end they recorded a 19 goal win.
Olinda Ferny Creek have had the easiest of runs in the finals, defeating Beaconsfield in the Semi Final to move straight through to the Grand Final.
Cranbourne on the other hand have taken the long way around.
After losing to Beaconsfield in the Qualifying Final, they then beat Woori Yallock in the Semi Final before a come from behind win against Beaconsfield last weekend saw them win a place in the decider.
Cranbourne coach Donna Wilson believes it was her side’s defensive pressure that got them over the line after they took a few lessons from the Qualifying Final loss that helped in the Preliminary Final win.
“The game was hard fought like it always is with Beaconsfield. I think our full court defensive pressure all game wore them down and the last ten minutes we just ran over the top of them,”
“We did a lot of work on their attacking set ups and took in a different way to play defensively on their goaling circle and it worked.”
Although the prospect of the three-peat is exciting for Olinda Ferny Creek, coach Tim Smith is not getting ahead of himself.
“We don’t get too far ahead of ourselves and we look at things essentially a year at a time. I think three in a row is only in the background. We’ve got a completely different crew, you look to the team we’ll take in on Friday, is different to last year, they’ll be two or three that are different than last year and likewise back to four or five years ago it’s completely different.”
Meanwhile, Cranbourne also played in a Grand Final last year but unlike Olinda Ferny Creek were not victorious. Wilson said that the pain of losing that Grand Final is not fuelling her team because this time around things are different.
“Last year was different. We came into that Grand Final with a lot of injuries and basically only had six players from the season, so we had a lot of injuries on the bench. This year I’ve got a full list, 11 fit players, which makes a big difference.”
Smith believes the culture at the Bloods is the reason for all the success the club has enjoyed in the past few years.
“We work really hard on the people that come into our club are good people first and then good netballers second. That breeds an environment that the athletes promote wanting to be there and learn, and also looking ahead and targeting specific athletes for that development for years to come.”
With the luxury of the weekend off, they tried to keep the routine the same.
“Very much sticking to what we know and what we do. I like to make sure the routine is the same and practice each week, we have a set routine, our warmup is a set routine, we find that really important.”
Peri Stewart has been an absolute star for Olinda Ferny Creek in attack this season.
Although the figure hasn’t been determined for the entire season, almost 84% of Olinda Ferny Creek’s goals against Cranbourne this season have come via Peri Stewart.
Smith believes that the battle between her and Cranbourne’s Tara Cecil is going to be a key battle this weekend.
“I think Tara Cecil vs Peri Stewart is going to be a big thing for us and I think that Tara is a wonderful player and I think that’s going to be sort of the key.
“I think that’s where it’s going to be won and lost – in that particular battle,”
“Our defence is very strong, in making the opposition accountable in attack and I think that will play a part, but I think the key matchup is going to be the Tara Cecil Peri Stewart matchup.”
Cranbourne coach Wilson knows how crucial it will be to stop Stewart’s influence, but is thinking slightly more broadly.
“They are totally strong in every position but obviously Peri is the one that finishes off all their work.”
“We have huge respect for Olinda, they are an amazing team…. Both times we’ve played them we haven’t been at full strength. There’s a little bit of unknown for them but we know it’s going to take a huge effort.”
Matthew Fotia (AFL Outer East Media Manager)
Olinda Ferny Creek by 8 goals
The Bloods have been one of the best netball sides in the region, let alone the competition for awhile now and despite having a couple of standout names, are strong all over the court.
BOC – Elly Stewart (OFC)
MR X (Mystery Tipster)
Cranbourne by 2 goals
Just like Tim Smith said, Cecil v P.Stewart is the big match up, and Tara Cecil is made for the big occasion. She’ll need some friends but I can see the Eagles causing a boilover.
BOC – Tara Cecil (Cranbourne)