MERRIVALE netballers know what to expect when they take to the court for today’s A reserve grand final against Panmure.
Their road to the decider at Reid Oval has already included two heart-stopping matches — and they’ve prevailed both times.
The Tigers outlasted Timboon Demons 48-46 in a first semi-final which went to extra time a fortnight ago.
They backed up by surviving a fierce challenge from minor premier Old Collegians in the preliminary final last weekend, winning 30-29.
Whether they’ve already run their race remains to be seen. But co-coach Claire Wines is adamant the thrillers will help, not hinder.
“I think it will help them a lot. They’ve come from behind in a couple of those games and they’ve also held leads,” she said.
“They’ve had all scenarios throughout the year. They know they can win if it’s a close game, which we’re hoping it’s not, for the sake of the heart.”
Merrivale finished fourth after the regular season, two rungs below second-placed Panmure.
But the Tigers claimed the honours in round seven, 34-28, the only time the sides have met this season.
Wines conceded favouritism to the Bulldogs but said the early-season win had given her side confidence.
“We’re not overconfident by any means. We know it’s going to be a tough battle but at least we know we can do it,” she said.
Panmure coach Robyn Roache said the Bulldogs had settled their side since losing that match and hit the grand final a better side.
“We have had a really good group of girls. A third of the way in we really started to settle,” she said. “Our last loss was to Merrivale, so that was a turning point.”
Roache said the chance to create club history — Panmure has never won a netball flag — was driving her side.
“They’re just great mates. It’d be a big thing to win it,” she said.
The midcourt battle between Panmure and Merrivale delivers plenty of intrigue but it is a goal-circle contest both coaches highlighted as important to win.
Tigers shooter Nicole Batten has A grade experience and will come up against 300-game Bulldogs defender Lisa Andrew.