North Ballarat City plays off for back-to-back grand final appearances when it takes on Sunbury in the Ballarat Football Netball League A grade netball preliminary final on Saturday.
It will be the second meeting in three weeks between the two teams which met in the first semi-final.
North Ballarat won the last encounter, but there will be no double chances for the reigning premier should it fall to the top-seeded Lions at the City Oval. North Ballarat coach Annie McCartin anticipates the clash to be the toughest of the season.
"I reckon it will be, both teams are going to be desperate, and both teams will have to play consistent, contested netball, and it's going to be full-on because both teams have the ability to make each other pay off the slightest of mistakes," she said.
"I can see this being a highly contested game."
North will enter the game confident even though it was unable to overcome East Point in the second semi-final, while the Lions re-grouped in an impressive showing against Lake Wendouree.
This clash will be significant in more ways than one for North, which has its sights set on a premiership repeat.
Sunbury will be desperate to avoid a second straight preliminary final knock-out after claiming the minor premiership for the second year in a row.
McCartin expects the game to be one and lost in the centre.
"We have to try really hard through the mid-court to try and force turnovers," she said.
"That's easier said than done because they can move the ball quickly or be patient.
"It's going to come down to valuing the ball and scoring off every chance.
"We match-up well all over the court but it's in their goal circle we have to capitalise on," McCartin said.
City will be without the services of key defender Brianna Gregory, who is away.
She will be replaced as goalkeeper by Laura McDonald, who returns from holidays.
Gregory was a standout performer against Sunbury, which boasts a prolific goal shooting combination of Amanda Cusack, Ruth Smith and Shelby Holter.
Despite losing Gregory, McCartin said her team would take confidence in the knowledge it had beaten Sunbury recently.