AS tension and expectations rise, Terang Mortlake coach Pam Davis is urging her giant-killing side to relax.
Fourth-placed Terang Mortlake can keep its hopes of a top-three finish and finals double chance alive when it hosts second-placed Camperdown today.
The Bloods, which will again field five players aged 17 or less, have been the surprise packet of the season. They have beaten every side in the competition except the undefeated Koroit and Camperdown.
But Davis said last week’s performance against seventh-placed Cobden where the Bloods were upset by six goals had prompted a re-think leading into today’s match of the round at Terang Recreation Reserve.
“We are going back to how we started the season, a bit more relaxed,” she said.
“I think we have put a bit too much pressure on ourselves.”
She said she wanted her side to play with the freedom that had won them 10 games — the same number as third-placed Port Fairy.
“It could have been a bit of a let-down last week after we beat Warrnambool because everything (a finals berth) was secured.
“We have achieved a lot this year already. Just making finals was the goal but once you get in the mix anything can happen.
“I’ve told the girls to go out there, take the pressure off themselves and just enjoy it. If we win, we win, if we don’t we don’t.”
The Bloods announced themselves as a genuine finals contender when they got within three goals of Camperdown in round eight.
“It was probably the catalyst that got us really started and then we followed up with Port Fairy the following week and had a win,” Davis told The Standard.
Davis set the mood for today’s match with a light-hearted training session on Thursday night.
The Bloods will again go in without midcourter Aimee Arundell (ill) and defender Ailish Glennen (ankle) but Davis is confident her side will do well.
Camperdown’s midcourt led by coach Tracey Baker holds the key to the outcome.
While the focus is generally on stopping Camperdown shooter Narelle Welsh, Davis said her side was focusing further up the court in a bid to help goal keeper Jess O’Connor, Welsh’s likely opponent.
“You have to stop their midcourt. We have to have full-court pressure because their midcourt feeds Narelle and Jaymie Finch really well.”
Baker said the Magpies would be without wing attack Megan Bullen today but she was keen for her side to maintain momentum heading into the finals.
“Now that we have sewn up second spot, it’s probably not as cut-throat as I thought six weeks ago,” she said.
“I thought we would be fighting for the same spot.”
Baker said she would use the match to tinker with her line-up but the focus was on winning.
“I just want to try a couple of things I don’t want to spring on the girls come finals.
“The last couple of weeks we have had our four-quarter wins and I’ve been able to make small changes and it hasn’t affected the scoreline.”
In other games, Cobden can keep its finals hopes alive with a win against Port Fairy at home, fifth-placed Portland is chasing an upset against powerhouse Koroit to secure its finals spot while North Warrnambool Eagles must defeat Hamilton Kangaroos to stay in the finals hunt. Ninth-placed South Warrnambool is eyeing its second consecutive victory when it hosts eighth-placed Warrnambool at the Friendly Societies’ Park.