Waitaki Girls’ High School Wildfire knows it is going to have to fight to win the North Otago premier club netball title tomorrow.
But coach Steve Ross says if his players can stick to their own game they are “going to be perfectly fine” against 2018 runner-up Maheno.
The schoolgirls earned their spot in this weekend’s final after beating defending champion Valley Gold 34-29 on Saturday.
In the past six seasons of premier netball in North Otago, Valley Gold has won the title five times and lost only four games.
But Ross said he was confident going into the semifinal.
“I knew we’d get them at some point and I was hoping it would be the semifinal,” he said.
“I actually thought we were going to win. Those girls have worked their butts off and everything that we’ve done paid off.
“They finally put it together for four quarters – controlled netball where they didn’t throw the ball away and they looked after each other. It wasn’t razzle-dazzle, it was just the simple stuff done well.”
Wildfire’s defensive duo of captain Kira Mortimer and Charlotte Weir put Valley Gold’s shooters under huge pressure.
And former Wildfire coach, the late Georgie Salter, would have been “so proud” of the team, daughter Rihi Schultz, nee Salter, said.
Schultz, the Valley Gold player-coach, was full of praise for her team, which is now playing for third and fourth against Waitaki Girls’ Lightning Strike, and Wildfire – the “better team” on the day.
Maheno beat Lightning Strike 36-30 to secure its spot in tomorrow’s final.
Coach Carmen Brenssell is expecting Wildfire to come at her side hard and fast.
“They’ll have no mercy. They’re young, they’re fit, they’ll go for everything so we’ve just got to stand up to all that, rise above that, keep our heads and keep to our own game plan,” Brenssell said.
Maheno and Wildfire have played twice this season and the schoolgirls have won both clashes (21-19 and 34-23).
But Brenssell is optimistic and would like her team to follow in the footsteps of 2019 Citizens Shield-winning Maheno Rugby Club.
“We’re slowly coming together as a team, as a whole unit and it’s taken a while, but we’re finally playing 40 minutes of netball.