Sport

PDNL | grand final | Strathmerton v Picola United preview

By Alex Mitchell

Neither Strathmerton nor Picola United managed to make the Picola and District Netball League's top four this season, but that has not stopped the talented squads streaking through the finals and into a fairytale decider.

An almost unthinkable fifth-versus-sixth grand final will be played at Berrigan sports ground on Saturday, with the Bombers and Blues each showing hot form to the season's biggest clash.

Strathmerton has won its past six games to charge into the big dance, capped off by the weekend's impressive 13-goal preliminary final win against Katunga, in which mid-courters Vanessa Ward and Kasey Baker stood out.

But United's form is just as prolonged, clicking at the mid-way point of the season after a 5-4 start to go 8-1-1 in its next 10 and find itself playing off for the title.

"We started with a few injuries, with girls away, so it took a bit longer to get things together than we would have liked," United coach Emma Greaves said.

"The last half of the year has been really good, just one game everything sort of fell into place, although I can't put my finger on when everything just clicked.

"The girls are very excited, they're happy and relaxed, which is good, you'd much rather that than nerves. We go in knowing we have the ability to win it, if we play like we have in the previous finals we back ourselves in."

United's key players were on show at the Lukies Medal count, with Demi Morrison and Emilly Atkinson finishing third and seventh respectively in the league's best and fairest.

"They're both very determined and aggressive player, they go in hard every single week. They're so positive on the court and really good leaders," Greaves said.

For Strathmerton, Ward and Amy Carter also loom as keys after finishing fourth and fifth respectively in the count and coach Caitlyn Price said the side had played a wonderful preliminary final against Katunga.

"We're really excited,  everyone is up and about," she said.

"We'll have training (tonight) but nothing out of the ordinary. We're going in as if it is another game, obviously there is a lot more pressure, with everyone watching so we just will go in and play our game.

"It was definitely tough, we knew if we put together a really good performance we could do it. We were very patient in attack, it was something we spoke about before the game, we knew the Katunga defenders are very strong and tall. We had to keep the ball low and work hard."

Price said seizing the day was critical for her group as it looks to achieve the ultimate.

"It's been an awesome year with a great group of girls, just to finish it off with the flag would be icing on the cake," she said.

"It's been a few years since A-grade has been to the grand final, it's something that doesn't just come every day and some players are very unlucky and never get to one. You've got to cherish the moment, but it's not going to be easy."

Greaves agreed taking advantage of an opportunity all netballers dreamed of was the aim of the game.

"It would be for the club, someone said we haven't won an A-grade premiership for 40 or 50 years," she said.

"It wouldn't just be for this group, it would be a real club thing and it would be lovely to bring it a flag."