Sport

Deniliquin just another challenge Tongala looking to overcome

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September 16, 2017

Key duo: The performances of Tongala's Abby Pettifer (pictured) and Denilquin's Natalie Thorpe today will go a long way to deciding which team faces Moama in the Murray Netball League grand final next weekend.

Prime mover: Natalie Thorpe will play a vital role for Deniliquin today.

Tongala has had to do it the hard way all season in the Murray Netball League and today’s preliminary final against Deniliquin will be no different.

Despite a season regularly interrupted by illness, injury, travel and tragedy, the Blues managed to scrap and claw their way to a double chance.

It helps when playing coach Alicia White is a league medallist in three separate competitions and has almost 400 games of top-level senior netball experience to draw on in an attempt to bring her mis-matched side together.

But even the stalwart has been floored by the recent events surrounding the Pettifer family.

‘‘No doubt last Saturday was really hard for the whole netball club,’’ White said.

Abby and Sara Pettifer will return to the court today against the Rams, but goalkeeper Amy O’Neill has had a serious health scare and will not make another appearance for the season.

‘‘I don’t know that confident would be a word we would use but we’re definitely going to give it our all,’’ White said.

‘‘We just have to keep doing what we have been all year, we’ve been depleted but credit to us for somehow still winning and hopefully we can win again.

‘‘It will be nice to have the versatility of the Pettifers back, it will give us a chance to flick them across the court in multiple positions.’’

Tongala won the only clash between the teams this year by 12 goals in round 10 and White believes her shooters will be integral to repeating the result at Cobram today.

‘‘I think we’ll have to shut Bec White and Amelia Wyatt down and if we can combat those two then it’s anyone’s game,’’ she said.

‘‘I think our attacking end will be the ones to stand up on the weekend, and it’s pretty cliche but if we shoot the goals we’ll win.’’

Meanwhile, Deniliquin will take plenty of heart out of a pair of hard-fought finals victories so far in this campaign.

‘‘We are confident in our ability to get across the line,’’ coach Jodie Sefton said.

‘‘We were challenged in both games very late in the game and we did a very good job in both games to maintain our run in September.’’

The Rams defeated Numurkah by three goals and Echuca United by two after leading well early and one member of the team has stood out as key to both wins.

‘‘Natalie Thorpe has been outstanding, her leadership and steadiness comes from tonnes of finals experience,’’ Sefton said.

‘‘But we’re such an even team, so we’ll look to all of them to come focused and ready to stick to the team rules and get the job done.’’

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