Battle of the titans

They faced off for last year’s flag, they have been the best two teams all year and now Traralgon and Drouin will do battle again in Saturday’s Gippsland League A grade netball grand final.

The Maroons emerged the victor in last season’s game – defeating the Hawks by just five goals.

Despite aiming to claim back-to-back flags, Maroons coach Kate French said her side was focused on this week’s game.

“We’re focused on training hard, keeping focused this week and working on our set structures,” French said.

“I really respect Drouin as a team, and so we know what we have to do to beat Drouin.

“We know that means we’re going to have to work really hard this week.”

French has a wealth of options at her disposal, including 200-game A grade veteran Stacey O’Brien and Victorian Netball League goal shooter Ramayer Gourley.

“She’s (Gourley) a key goaler for us and she’s an asset to our goaling end along with Maddi Stockdale, who’s an incredible long range shooter,” she said.

“The speed dynamic between Stacey and Alyce (Stockdale) in the mid court to feed the ball into Ramayer or Maddi is another reason why the attacking end is strong.”

French also said Bec Jennings and Caitlin Ponton would play a vital role in defence.

Drouin secured its spot in the grand final after defeating Moe 76-43 in last weekend’s preliminary final.

Hawks coach Stacie Gardiner said her team was feeling confident after its victory over the Lions.

“It’s great to come off such a big win, so we can be confident going into the match,” Gardiner said.

“We try to make sure we shoot over 50 goals a game and if we do that we usually come away with the win.

“So that will be our aim for the weekend.”

She identified O’Brien and Gourley as threats, but said she believed her side’s dedication to fitness would prove a factor when the two teams went head-to-head.

“We’ve trained hard every week on Thursdays and everyone does their own work in the gym keeping fit and that always helps,” Gardiner said.

“That’s why we’ve come so far – we’ve stepped up our fitness since last year which will put is in good stead for Saturday’s match.”

She said the team’s experience in last year’s grand final would provide extra motivation.

“We don’t want to have that feeling again – we want to get on top this year,” Gardiner said.

“We’ve got the confidence we can do it – everyone’s been on the big stage before and knows what it takes.

“So we can definitely get there.”