PANTHERS versus Collegians Mystified has been the grand final matchup for the past three Bathurst Netball Association A grade seasons but that won't be the case this time around.
(min cost $8)
Login or signup to continue reading
There's only room for one of those teams in the 2022 edition and who that side will be gets decided this Saturday afternoon in the preliminary final at John Matthews Sporting Complex.
Bulldogs Verdelho await the winner of this weekend's game after they accounted for Panthers 44-36 in last week's major semi-final.
Collegians kept their campaign going by accounting for Scots All Saints College 54-46 in a comeback minor semi-final success.
Panthers coach Di Coombes said it's a great feeling just to have reached the top two on the ladder after a season of challenges.
"It's been that kind of year. Anyone from the top four could have been in this year's grand final, Everyone there is so closely matched," she said.
"We're quite lucky. We ran with seven last week because two of our shooters are injured. We'll get one of them back this week, while the other is back if we make it through.
"I thought we did quite well. It was only in the last quarter where we dropped off and they kicked away. It was a really good game. Bulldogs' Alisha Glasgow was outstanding for them and just sunk it when she needed to.
"Everyone's battled from week to week with different teams and the challenge was to get to here. Now that we're here it's about finishing it off.
"We had a good training session on Wednesday night. Everyone's keen and looking forward to it. I'm sure Mel will bring her best, as I will be, and it should be a great game."
Panthers will welcome back Charli Lynch for the preliminary final but will still be without one of their other shooters, Bronte Cullen-Bullen, this Saturday as she deals with ligament injuries.
Cullen-Bullen is an outside chance of playing the grand final, should Panthers qualify.
"She's a great little shooter coming through. She's doing all the right things ... so fingers crossed, but it's not an injury you want to rush back from," Coombes said.
"It's a bonus getting Charli back in. She's a little pocket rocket. Everyone played well last week so we've just got to step up that next level."
Collegians coach Mel Noonan said it will be interesting to play a finals game against Panthers knowing that there's still potentially one more game to come afterwards.
"It's unusual circumstances meeting in this game but it's still going to have the feeling of a grand final, because it's such a familiar matchup," she said.
"We'll have the same lineup as last week, which will be lovely.
"Panthers, this year in particular, look like they've come out firing. They look like they've got a lot of new set plays, a few of which we've identified, as well as their tactics and strengths.
"We'll just stick to knowing what we can do well and stay on our game plan."
Noonan said going through the long way through finals has its ups and downs.
"A few weeks back we thought playing the extra weekend might be good for us, but having those years where we made it straight through to the grand final was a lot less stressful for us," she said.
"It's always fun when you can get out and play together as team, because we just enjoy playing together so much."
The match gets underway at 1.15pm.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.