“Gossip Girl” usually writes for the KNTFL Budget, but has done a special A grade netball finals preview for us. Read on to see if you agree with her wrap-up.
The 2018 KNTNA finals are set to kick of this weekend and the A Grade competition is looking tighter than ever!
While the top four has been fairly well secured for the most part of the season by Lucindale, Naracoorte, Keith and Bordertown, the race for that fifth and final spot has been a real scrap to the finish.
Penola have edged out an inconsistent Border Districts and a stacked Kybybolite team to earn themselves the last spot in this year’s finals race, and what a race it’s shaping up to be! Let's take a close look at this week’s match-ups and how I think this year’s finals series is likely to play out...
Penola and Bordertown will meet in the Elimination Final on Sunday at Kaniva and this is sure to be a fast paced and physical encounter. Penola have found themselves in this position for the past four seasons now and have only made it through to the Semis on one occasion, back in 2016.
Penola rely heavily on playing coach and general through the midcourt, Skeer and she will have to produce a big game against one of the league’s best and most experienced in Poulton if the Eagles are any chance. The Roosters attack line are running in cruise control at the moment and have been producing some big scores over the past few weeks.
Penola defenders Long and Robbie have been heavily penalised in the circle and will need to work hard to stay in play if they’re a chance of shutting down Twigden and Lange (Bordertown). On a number of occasions Bordertown have been the team to put an end to Penola’s finals hopes and I think based on current form it will be a case of deja vu for the Eagles this weekend.
Bordertown has been in red hot form and has the potential to really shake things up amongst this season’s top three...they’re definitely a bit of a dark horse in my opinion!
Spectators will be in for a real treat on Saturday where two of the league’s most experienced finals campaigners in Naracoorte and Keith will go head to head in the Qualifying Final. Mark my words, this one will go down to the wire! They're sitting on one win a piece for 2018, with the most recent being decided by a single goal in the Demons’ favour back in Round 12.
Since then, the Crows have lost one of their newest recruits, Lubcke to an ACL injury and the Demons will be without coach Gill who has since announced she is expecting. So with a massive out for both teams this one could go either way, but I think the key to winning this match lies in the battle between Harper and Mott.
They are both big game players and will have a big say on how this one plays out so I think whoever can get the upper hand in this one-on-one battle will go a long way to leading their team to the win.
Reigning Premiers Lucindale would be feeling pretty confident in their premiership defence, having secured themselves the minor premiership and a ticket straight to the semis. We all know the minor premiership doesn’t stand for much unless you get a shot at the big one so I’m sure they’ll be watching on this weekend with great anticipation.
Justin (Lucindale) had been under a bit of an injury cloud in recent weeks but seems to be back to full fitness just in time for finals. The Roos have also welcomed back experienced defender Logan who has returned from eight weeks holiday so it will interesting to see how they juggle their defence end with Gear and Hannaford who has recently returned from injury in Logan’s absence.
The Roos have only suffered the one loss so far this season at the hands of the Demons and escaped with a one goal win in their last encounter with the Crows. So either way they will be gearing up for a big game following their week off.
I think for the first time in a long time you could almost flip a coin between the top four as to who will go all the way, and if I had to call it early, I think we could well see the return of a Keith and Naracoorte showdown!
That’s not to count out the Roos or the Roosters but I just think the ability that Keith and Naracoorte have to win the big games when they count could see them face off in yet another grand final. But we all know finals are a funny thing and if I’ve learned anything over the years its to expect the unexpected.
One thing I can guarantee is that for all of you spectators out there, you will be in for some seriously high quality country netball over the next few weeks…and who knows, our next league medalist could well be on show, but we’ll leave that for another time...
So for now, it’s time to break out the streamers, fire up the vocal chords and make sure you don’t miss a second of the action…the competition is about to heat up!!
Until next time…