Maheno wants to break cycle

Vally Karaka and Maheno Green will line up in the premier netball final tomorrow. PHOTO: REBECCA RYAN

Maheno Green is searching for its swansong.

After three heartbreaking years of being beaten North Otago Netball premier finalists from 2018 to 2020 — and with no final last year — coach Carmen Brenssell would love nothing more than to bring the Jessie Allen Trophy home.

Maheno Green will once again line up against Valley Karaka in the final tomorrow.

It could serve as a ‘‘celebration’’ for a few Maheno stalwarts, who will be finishing up at the end of the season, Brenssell said.

‘‘It’s just like unfinished business for them. They’re wanting to wrap it up,’’ she said.

Both teams have set the standard all year, with Valley — reigning 2020 champion — dropping only one game to North Otago Men, and taking two tight wins against Maheno already this season.

Valley comes into the final after a comprehensive 42-23 win over Waitaki Girls’ Wildfire, while Maheno beat St Kevin’s College 27-22 in last Saturday’s semifinals.

Maheno is an experienced group, bolstered by the return of injured Phillipa Masoe, Amy Waqawai, Anika Smith and Kat Kawau for tomorrow, and has one of the strongest defensive units in North Otago.

But the team will need to capitalise on its turnovers, shut down Valley’s shooters and focus on being ‘‘gutsy’’.

‘‘That’s not just on the court, on my behalf too as a coach,’’ she said.

‘‘In the past few finals I think I haven’t been gutsy enough to make changes when they need to be made — we’ve been really working on that too, because we’ve got such a strong bench we just need to find the right combos.’’

It was apt Maheno would meet fellow country rival Valley in the final, after having so many great battles through the years.

‘‘We always love playing Valley. It’s a fierce game — physically and mentally — and we know Valley’s going to be on our back the whole game.’’

Valley co-coach Nicky Fisher said her team knew Maheno would be gunning for the title.

‘‘I think they’ll come out guns blazing,’’ Fisher said.

But Valley would be focusing on its own game and the group was excited about lining up for another premier final.

‘‘We’re absolutely stoked. We’ve had a real good season.’’

Valley had plenty of ‘‘fresh blood’’ this season, and the injection of new players had added to the team.

‘‘I think it just kind of sets that standard with having those that have been in the team for a couple of years and then having some new ones come through.’’

New players India McLay and Izzy Hurst had paired well with Lisa Fenwick in the defensive end, Fisher said.

‘‘It’s definitely hit new levels and [McLay] seems to keep picking up ball every single game.’’

Valley and Maheno will play each other tomorrow at 2pm.