It is the Ballarat Football Netball League clash which has seemingly been written in stone from the very beginning of season 2016.
The thrilling draw between 2014 champion East Point and reigning premier North Ballarat City in round one set the precedent for this weekend’s qualifying final, with the two sides finishing the season first and second respectively.
The Kangaroos would go on to get the better of City in their round 15 clash, bringing to an end the reigning premier’s undefeated streak which stretched back to the 2014 elimination final against Melton. City would go on to have another slip up en route to the finals, falling to Sunbury a fortnight later.
City coach Annie McCartin said her charges’ two losses had given them the wake-up call needed heading into the pointy end of the season.
“We always knew (the loss) would come about, and against East it was a good game but they were too strong for us,” McCartin said. “A loss sometimes allows you to look at a game differently compared to if you had won.”
Despite securing top spot, East Point has not been without its own hiccups in the latter stages of the season. The Kangaroos were unable to bounce back from a slow first quarter in their round 16 clash with Ballarat, with the Swans inflicting East Point’s first and only loss for the season.
East Point captain Emma Farrell was similarly optimistic about her side’s stumble heading into the finals.
“Mentally it’s a good thing. We certainly didn’t go out to lose and it hurt a lot but I think we will be stronger for it.”
Playing on home turf on Saturday, East Point will be hoping to find a way to stop City spearhead Jordyn Bibby, who has again been dominant at the ring in 2016. The Roos were able to frustrate the goalshooter in the round 15 fixture, with Bibby shooting at just 57 per cent accuracy.
“However we’re under no illusion it’s just a Jordyn and (goalkeeper Kate Mcleod) game,” Farrell said. “They’re so very patient, so wearing them down is something we will be focusing on.”
McCartin said despite the fact City had been unable to defeat East Point throughout the home-and-away season, it was important they did not deviate too far from their traditional game-plan in search of the result.
“You still have to keep to your structures and plans, because sometimes when you try to change things too much that’s when you can come unstuck.”
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