Collegians and Panthers battle for first Bathurst Netball Association grand final place

TOP TWO: Astrid Linke and Caitlyn Matthews are seeking passage through to the Bathurst Netball Association A grade's grand final. Photos: PHIL BLATCH

TOP TWO: Astrid Linke and Caitlyn Matthews are seeking passage through to the Bathurst Netball Association A grade's grand final. Photos: PHIL BLATCH

COLLEGIANS Mystified and Panthers have been the two teams showing how its done in this year’s Bathurst Netball Association A grade competition and it’s appropriate that they be the clubs meeting in the major semi-final.

Their race for the minor premiership was fiercely contested and they both put plenty of distance between themselves and their rivals in the process.

Each team is packed with Bathurst representative talents and it should lead to another great meeting on Saturday.

Panthers coach Di Coombes said it’s a great weekend for the club as a whole.

“We’re really excited about semis. We had 17 Panthers teams competing and we got 14 in,” she said.

“Ella Welsh has come back from an injury. It’s been an up and down year for us with injuries but everyone’s looking forward to it.

“Finals are a completely different thing. It doesn’t matter how many times someone has beaten you. It counts for little this Saturday and that’s what we’re focusing on.”

Two of the competition’s past three weeks have been rained out and that’s made any court time all the more valuable.

READ ALSO: Mystified is showing the way to play in Bathurst netball action

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“We haven’t had that flow on into the semis but we were lucky last week that we got a good hit out against Mana,” Coombes said.

“There’s a few young players who are a bit nervy. Ella was our only concern but she’s been doing really well at the physio.”

Collegians coach Melissa Noonan said her minor premiers are looking sharp despite not having played for a month.

“They’ve been training extra hard. It would be wrong to be at the top of the ladder for 15 weeks and not go any further,” she said.

“They’re definitely going to put up a good fight.”

The clubs last faced each other during the double header weekend last month.

Panthers got up 45-43 on the Saturday before Collegians returned the next day to claim a 52-41 victory.

“That was one of our most emotional days on the netball court, losing Kim Thompson whose daughters both play on the team and who was the original coach of Mystified before she handed it over to me three years ago,” Noonan said.

“It was a hard day … and we lost by two. The next day Panthers weren’t at full strength and we took the game by 11.

“It will be whoever gets it together on the day. I’ll have a couple of players away for semi-finals but that’s okay. Even when there’s gaps to fill I can field a team that’s still strong.”

Collegians and Panthers meet for the fourth time this season from 1.15pm.

The loser of the match will receive a second chance and will face the winner of Bulldogs and Mana.

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