Shepparton ready for grand final rematch

By Aydin Payne

The rematch of last year’s Goulburn Valley League netball grand final has finally arrived.

Reigning premier Echuca will return to the scene of its memorable flag decider boilover, Deakin Reserve, to play Shepparton on Sunday.

However, the two sides will be competing with different line-ups from that contest.

Shepparton coach Tracey Brereton talked down the hype of the grand final rematch due to that fact.

‘‘I think because both sides are so different it hasn’t really felt like we are heading into a grand final rematch,’’ she said.

‘‘Obviously, we haven’t got Kim (Commane) and they haven’t got Sheridan (Thurnrow), which are two big changes.

‘‘We know that they are a quality side and they have a never-say-die attitude, we’ll have to play at our best.’’

Echuca began the year where last season ended, starting 5-0, before two hiccups against the Shepparton Swans and Mooroopna.

Casey Frame has been in tremendous form in attack for the Murray Bombers, alongside youngster Claudia Mawson.

Shepparton defensive pair Morgan Gibson and Ash Cann will be tasked with curbing their influence.

Echuca coach Gina Pearson hoped two of her experienced leaders would be ready to go for the grand final rematch.

‘‘Hopefully we can have a full-strength side for Sunday, with Holly (Butler) and Tamara (Nicholls) both missing last weekend,’’ Pearson said.

‘‘Shepparton have been performing well lately and we always have a tough battle whenever we play them.

‘‘We both have different sides to and different game style to when we last played.

‘‘We’re really looking forward to the contest and executing certain things that we have been working on.’’

Playing lists aside, Shepparton has flicked the switch on its form in recent weeks, winning its past three matches after a lean period from rounds three to six.

During those rounds, the Bears suffered losses to United, Swans and Seymour and are yet to beat a team above them this year.

‘‘Because we dropped those three matches, this game is a big one for us,’’ Brereton said.

‘‘I feel that we are a completely different side to a month ago.

‘‘And I think the biggest thing for us, is that everyone has stepped up and has played their role.’’

Shepparton and Echuca will play off for the Karen Johnson Memorial Trophy, which is named in honour of the late 2003 and 2004 Wellman Family medallist.