Sport

NCWL | grand final preview

By Alex Mitchell

James "Buster" Douglas knocking out Mike Tyson.

The United States' famed "Miracle of Ice" gold medal against the Soviet Union.

Leicester City's unthinkable English Premier League title in 2016.

It is quite the list of sporting upsets, but should Mooroopna knock off Echuca in the Northern Country Women's League, that might just top the lot.

But being an underdog is nothing new for this emerging litter; counted out for Sunday's preliminary final against Shepparton, the Cats did not give their opponent a sniff, hunting the Bears down for a 28-point win.

Now, history beckons with the winner of Sunday's Deakin Reserve classic to lift its maiden senior women's premiership, although winning would require Mooroopna to close a large gap to its rival.

The Murray Bombers have won the meetings between the sides by 110 and 95 points this season, but Mooroopna has closed the gap to the competition's elite this season and Cats player Robyn Hough was proud of the effort.

"It's pretty amazing actually, I don't know that any of us really expected to get this far, considering at the start of the season there were only a couple of us at training," she said.

"To pull off a team, let alone get into the finals, and then beat last year's premiers - amazing, a pretty special feeling.

"Just watching the girls on the field (against Shepparton), the way they played together and put the pressure on from the start, it was just really impressive. I don't think we really gave them a look-in to be honest."

Mooroopna first four losses of the season came by 46, 110, 70 and 127 points, but that did not break the group's will, if anything strengthening its determination to hand out beatings of its own.

The Cats have swooped home like the great Chautauqua, winning five straight games to book a maiden trip to the decider.

"In the back of your mind you always like to think it's possible you can make finals," Hough said.

"After the first three rounds when we got smashed by a lot, it was like 'it would be nice to just even get a win'. To go from that to get some more wins and start winning some hard games has been really good.

"We were all just running out and jumping on top of each other at the end of the game on Sunday. We've come together and got really close, especially with the way we've got better and grown as a team."

There is no questioning Echuca's form - it has not lost a game this season and is conceding just 11 points per outing - but counting out the Cats would be downright foolish.

“When we played them they only had the bare minimum, which makes it hard to read into previous results," Echuca coach Mick McInnes told the Riverine Herald.

“Their ability to win the contested ball is extremely impressive, but it’s also a strength of ours so we should be able to nullify it.

“If we can get on top in the middle of the ground, I think it will go a long way to winning the game.”