Sunbury and North Ballarat City are no strangers to each other when it comes to finals.
Saturday’s Ballarat Football Netball League A grade qualifying final will be a rematch of last year’s grand final, which Sunbury won.
The two teams met twice in last year’s finals series, and also played off in the 2013 and 2015 grand finals – sharing the ledger, 1-1.
While there is a mutual respect between the two, the weekend’s clash will be a fierce hit-out.
The Lions will undoubtedly enter as warm favourites, losing just one game throughout the home and away season when it rested four players against Lake Wendouree in the last round. While North pushed Sunbury to four goals when the sides met in round six.
Sunbury coach Adam Boldiston felt his group was in a great position to defend its crown after giving some key personnel a freshen up. However, there was doubt surrounding some of its other prime movers.
Aila Pera will miss due to work commitments while Boldiston said Kate Fletcher was “highly unlikely” due to her involvement with the Victorian Netball League grand final and Tarnee Adams was a “week to week proposition” with a knee injury. Nonetheless, Boldiston was not short on depth, with 13 players qualified for A grade.
Whatever the make-up, Sunbury will have a wealth of finals experience.
“We’ve got seasoned campaigners,” Boldiston said.
“They’ve all played finals, whether it’s in VNL or other leagues, but it comes down to execution on the day.
“We’re not going to change too much from what we did last time.”
Meanwhile in the North Ballarat City camp, coach Annie McCartin felt her side was tracking well, having won its past nine matches while a bye in the final round gave the players a rest too.
“It (the bye) didn’t worry us either way, the rest was probably a good thing for us.” McCartin said.
McCartin said it was key to slow down Sunbury through the mid-court, but it would not change much from the gamestyle that has got it to this point.
“There’s quite a few things we’ve worked on since that round (when we played Sunbury) and I think we’re in a good position to bring that out on Saturday...we’ll still do what we do though, we won’t change a lot up.”