Maheno stands in the way of Valley Gold claiming its fifth consecutive North Otago premier grade netball title, after both teams qualified for Saturday’s final with relative ease.
Valley dominated St Kevin’s College senior A to run away 32-18 winners, while Maheno found the going a little tougher against a plucky Waitaki Girls’ Wildfire, holding on for a 38-33 victory.
Both teams have plenty to play for come tomorrow afternoon – Valley is gunning for five titles in a row and Maheno its first in what is believed to be more than 40 years.
Maheno was absent from the premier grade for several years before it returned to the top flight in 2017 and if it is able to claim the silverware, it would cap off a remarkable comeback.
Maheno captain Kat Kawau said her side’s hard work throughout the season had paid off in the form of a finals berth.
“Our season’s gone really well. It’s been an awesome season. We finished fifth after round one so we had a wee bit of work to do after that, but the girls have trained well and we seem to be peaking at the right time.
“Valley’s a strong team throughout the whole court, so we’re going to have to step it up .. and play our own game.”
She admitted beating Valley would be no easy task and was looking to experienced players such as defender Mel Smith and wing attack Anika McLennan to set the tone early.
Kawau said there was a huge buzz around the team and every player wanted to be able to say they played in a championship-winning team.
“This is going to be huge for the club. This will mean a lot to the players as well, as Maheno hasn’t won for such a long time. But, it’s not going to be easy to beat Valley.”
For Valley Gold captain Petra Aspros also, tomorrow would be special.
Her side has created a dynasty of sorts and she was confident it could get the job done.
Valley has lost only once this year and was a perfect 6-0 in the competition’s second round, heading into the playoffs.
She said a mix of youth and experience had worked well and she was positive about her side’s chances against Maheno.
“They’re a great team and we had a tough game against them only three weeks ago. They’ve got awesome defence, so it’s about us rising above it and playing our own game as a team.”
Aspros said communication and confidence would be keys to victory, as would the likes of club stalwarts Nicky Wallace, who had been exceptional all year in the defensive circle, and shooter Rihi Schultz.
With a fifth consecutive title tantalisingly close, she said it would be “huge” for the team’s experienced campaigners.
“It would be amazing. There’s still the core group of us – Sarah Newlands, Rihi and myself – who have been there through the whole five years. We’ve had an awesome season and if we don’t win we don’t, but it would be bloody awesome to do it.”
Aspros had been hearing all week how appropriate it would be for her side to follow in the footsteps of the Valley senior club rugby side that recently won the Citizens Shield.
“It would be great,” she said.