Tigers target three-peat

When Mirboo North and Thorpdale face off in Saturday’s Mid Gippsland Netball Association grand final, each team will have plenty to play for.

For the Tigers, a win offers the chance to seal a place in association history as the first A grade side to win three premierships in a row.

The Blues will be driven by an opportunity to send off outgoing coach Janene Havers in style.

Both sides are taking nothing for granted and know it will take a top performance to emerge the victor on Saturday.

Their two clashes during the season both went Thorpdale’s way, but when they faced off in this year’s qualifying final, Mirboo North sealed a seven-goal victory.

Tigers coach Jessie Holland said her team was confident going into the game.

“We’re going for three-in-a-row, which is exciting, but we’re not thinking about that at this stage,” Holland said.

“We’re definitely peaking at the right end of the season – if we play our game we can definitely bring home the cup.”

Mirboo North finished the season in third place and only lost four games all year.

Holland said her team was strong across the court, but singled out the defence for special praise.

“We do win the games from our defensive end – we’ve got a nice trio down there,” she said.

“Jess Le Page who is our goal defender – if you tell her to get the ball she gets the ball.”

The scoring ability of goal attack Dani Hilliar, who made the move from wing attack this season, would also be a factor, Holland said.

But she said it would be a difficult final.

“We know it’s going to be really tough on the weekend – finals are a different game altogether,” Holland said.

“But we’re not going to worry about their team too much, we know if we play our best netball we can beat anyone.”

Thorpdale finished in second place this season and Havers said her side would not underestimate the Tigers.

“We’re quietly confident – but you never know on grand final day,” she said.

“Mirboo North are a very good team and shouldn’t be underestimated.”

Havers said she was not reading too much into the two teams’ last encounter.

“We had a terrible, terrible game in the qualifying final – they played brilliantly, we played terribly,” she said.

“That was probably our worst game of the season, but at three-quarter-time it was still a draw.”

Havers said the Blues’ goal for the season was to make the grand final and said her defenders would play a big part in the game.

“They’ve had an amazing season,” she said.

“We’ve got one of the smartest goal attacks in the league (in Claire Hammond) – she reads the ball beautifully.”

She said her team’s victories over Mirboo North had given it the belief it could go all the way.

“When we first beat Mirboo North… I think they’d been undefeated for two years,” Havers said.

“When we beat them on their own court (in round 15) that became really real to us that we could go all the way.”