Kangaroos up for a test

Kate O'Meara

Kate O'Meara

NORTH Warrnambool Eagles coach Sharon Kenna says her Hamilton Kangaroos counterpart Sara Byrne will have her side primed for their A grade qualifying final showdown today.

The two sides met a fortnight ago in a topsy-turvy game, with the Eagles notching a seven-goal win after trailing by nine goals at half-time.

Kenna said Byrne, who has overseen the Kangaroos’ swift rise up the Hampden league table this season, was tactically strong.

“They took footage of the game so I am sure they studied that,” Kenna said.

“I think they are a real threat because they have a nice mix of players in the team and they are willing to take the game on.

“Sara has done a great job and done her homework on teams and is up to speed on all the opposition.”

The Eagles will be without strong wing defence Indi Morrison.

Morrison is still battling an ankle injury she suffered against the Kangaroos two weeks ago.

Kenna said Kate O’Meara would cover Morrison.

“Kate played last week for her and got our best player,” she said. “Because our 17s finished on top she doesn’t have to play for them (this weekend) so she will play a full game in A grade.”

Kenna said she would start with her regular seven and wait to get a feel for how the game was panning out before considering any positional changes.

“Indi is not there to throw the team around and that may make a difference as to whether I make changes or not because she can play goal keeper and goal defence too,” she said.

The Kangaroos’ fast start had the Eagles on the back foot in round 17.

Kenna said her side needed to identify the game style early. “We have to make sure we start properly. That’ll be the telling part,” she said.

“We didn’t start well on the weekend either.

“I don’t know if we play flow-on (netball) too soon so we will start with the basics and let it happen after that.”

The final is the Kangaroos’ first in A grade since joining the Hampden league last season.

It marks a rise from wooden spooners to premiership contenders.

Byrne said the Kangaroos were ready for the challenge.

“It is a big moment for the club,” she said.

“I hope we string four quarters together, that’s the main thing.

“For one player (Ally Feely) it’s the first time she’s ever played in a netball final but for the rest they have played netball finals so they have experience behind them.”

Byrne said the Kangaroos needed to apply defensive pressure, particularly in the Eagles’ goal circle where Laura and Annie Blackburn use short, swift passing to great affect, and show poise when transitioning down the court.

“We need to shut down their drive and movement which is good,” she said. “And we need to be aware of where our spaces are on the court.”

justine.mc@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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