Bears hell bent on getting cup

By Lauren Bordin

Shepparton is as best-placed as it has been in its history to finally have its name engraved on the Goulburn Valley League trophy.

The Bears’ best chance at a title was in 2013 only to be felled by Shepparton Swans in the grand final and Sunday will be their next chance to salute.

Four members of the side — Jacinta Todd, Ash Cann, Laura Ryan and Hannah Crawley — remain from that match and have continued to develop as players since.

Coach Tracey Brereton has led 11 tilts towards the club’s first A-grade premiership and Todd said defeating Echuca at Deakin Reserve would fill a box waiting to be ticked.

‘‘It would mean absolutely everything and one person we think of highly is Tracey, she’s been around the league for so many years, so it would mean the world for her and the club,’’ Todd said.

‘‘She has been around for 11 years and I think this is my sixth year at the Bears and even being an older player she brings out the best and I still learn a lot as a player and a coach.

‘‘She brings out the best in all players and I think that has come off the back of her passion for the sport, so she gives you everything and you just want to go out and give her everything as well.’’

Brereton gave birth at the end of last month, but despite being absent at some training and games, she had already given her side the base needed to keep plugging away.

Systematic about how they approach each game, the Bears have analysed the Murray Bombers to be ready for most things.

‘‘Echuca are not an easy team and they’ll come out at us hard and we’ll do the same thing too,’’ Todd said.

‘‘Echuca have definitely got some versatility and in ways are quite similar to us because we’ve got versatility as well.

‘‘They’ve got some young athletes and ones that are more experienced and we’re the same as well and the team that adjusts and calms the nerves a bit and has more focus in the first few minutes (will be at the forefront to win).’’

Shepparton has not lost a game this season and convincingly accounted for Echuca in the qualifying final.

The determined side rarely turns over the ball making it difficult for Echuca to find a mistake to prey on.

But Todd and Ryan will be tested by Erin Hill and Meg Rohde through the midcourt and making the right match-ups there will be pivotal to winning the game.

Todd said she had a healthy respect when meeting Hill on court.

‘‘I think we go hard at the ball and that’s one thing, Erin has been a solid player at the Bombers for a number of years now, so I’m looking forward to it,’’ she said.

Sharpshooter Kim Commane will be ever present to receive the ball in the circle, while Morgan Gibson is the ideal player to meet Sheridan Townrow in defence.

After seven preliminary finals in a decade Shepparton enters just its second A-grade grand final and is desperate to complete the puzzle.

‘‘To make a grand final is reward in itself and they’re quite rare, let alone to go in and potentially win it,’’ Todd said.

‘‘It’s exciting and we don’t disregard that it’s exciting, but we’re definitely on a mission and more determined than ever and we think we’re ready to go.’’