NORTH Gambier will be eager to win against East Gambier in the Western Border netball preliminary final at McLaughlin Park today to earn a rematch with Millicent in the grand final.
The Tigers come in as favourites, but the Bulldogs will be biting at the bit to prove everyone wrong.
Fortunately North has a smart, methodical coach at its helm in Anita Schroder and plenty of experience in the line-up and internally, the A Grade team knows it will not be easy.
The Tigers have won all three encounters this year reasonably comfortably, but finals do defy season form at times and East has the talent to not just challenge, but to cause the upset.
Brenna McKay will most likely match up on Caroline Davey in one of the battles of the day.
McKay is athletic and matches Davey in the air, but she will need help from those out in front to deny the feeders easy access to the shooter.
One of those jobs goes to youngster Tyne Bosko, who needs to shut down Kaitlin Smith.
Smith was dynamic in the second semi-final at wing attack and her second half of the season has been impressive.
Then there is the newly crowned joint association best and fairest Lisa Fyfe, who shared the top honour with Audine Bryant, and her battle with Tenille Gray.
Fyfe is a huge reason the Tigers are well and truly in contention, but Gray is one of the standouts for East.
If Gray can keep Fyfe busy, but not allow her to create turnovers, East will be in the contest.
You can almost predict the Tarsh McCallum/Amanda O’Shaughnessy battle in the middle will be a nil-all draw as both are hard-running players who also play a strong defensive role, while
Morgan Amy presents Mel Renko with a challenge.
Ellie Gould will take on Bo Creek and she will earn every possession.
Creek is in outstanding form and she has the agility to juggle the role of marking Gould and help McKay with Davey.
Sarah Lock looms as an “X-factor” in the match.
If she is on song from long range, it adds a new dimension to the shooting circle and will force Maddie Whaites – who has formed a formidable defence combination with Fyfe – to really chase Lock around rather than protecting the post.
North should advance, but it will take some work.