Shepparton has moved one step closer to an elusive Goulburn Valley League premiership.
The Bears convincingly defeated Shepparton Swans at Euroa yesterday to set up a preliminary final blockbuster against arch rivals Shepparton United at Deakin Reserve on Sunday.
The preliminary final is one of many the side has made across the last decade, just once progressing into the big dance.
While they were tested early on in the match against their crosstown rivals, the Bears took control of the game in the second quarter and never looked back.
Initially the Swans looked slick, with any progression a bonus following last week’s defeat of Benalla.
The attacking plays of the Swans were super, moving the ball quickly, but at a controllable speed.
Kate Jeffery and Shinea Sali were strong around the circle as playing coach Jana Bruinier dominated in goals.
She was constantly re-leading to find space as she won the battle against Laura Ryan, in place of the Bears’ regular goal defence Ash Bradley, who was out with a knee injury.
Shepparton began to pull some momentum its way late in the first term, although connections were not as clean as normal.
But trailing the Swans by two goals, Bears coach Tracey Brereton moved Ryan into centre and Grace Egan into goal defence with the change paying dividends.
Brereton was pleased with how the pair continued for the rest of the match.
‘‘We’ve never done it before and it helped a little bit, it’s not going to work every game, but in this style of game I think it helped,’’ she said.
‘‘What I thought was more impressive was that they followed through with my gameplan and we had a certain type of gameplan that we wanted to play and certain tactics and strategies that we wanted to do and they executed it.’’
By half-time the Bears were six goals ahead, as its defensive end caused held ball calls with Morgan Gibson playing yet another solid game in goal keeper.
In Shepparton’s attacking end, Swans players doubled teamed veteran Jacinta Todd, but Olivia Osborne was more than able to facilitate play into the circle.
With the Bears firmly ahead and staring at a preliminary final appearance, Brereton brought young players Ella Sidebottom and Maddie Moore on for some court time midway through the last quarter.
Sidebottom slotted in with ease, nailing goals like she had been playing all day.
Brereton said it was important to rotate through her players with any match-up a possibility next week.
‘‘For me, a team isn’t a team of seven it’s a team of nine or 10 or whatever your roster is for the year and our team has been so versatile and the court time everyone has got has been really good, but there does come a point where you can’t make changes left, right and centre,’’ she said.
‘‘It’s not because I don’t think they’re good enough to be on court, it’s just that maybe that match-up or that unit is working, so why change it?
‘‘But Ella came on and shot six in a row and Maddie came on and her intensity was fantastic.’’