THE Bathurst Netball Association A grade grand final went on hiatus last year due to COVID-19 but upon its return this Saturday there's one thing that remains the same: Collegians Mystified are back for another appearance.
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Collegians have the chance to claim a fourth straight premiership this Saturday when they go up against minor premiers Bulldogs Verdelho, where Mystified find themselves in the unusual position of being underdogs.
Melissa Noonan's side have had to take the long road to reach the decider after they finished the regular season in third place but they've saved some of their best netball for the games that matter.
They knocked over Scots All Saints College in the minor semi-final then got the better of Panthers in the preliminary final to set up a date with Bulldogs.
Bulldogs earned direct passage through to the grand final after beating Panthers in the major semi-final, marking them as favourites for this Saturday's big game.
"It's definitely going to be a tough game this weekend," the Collegians coach Noonan said.
"I certainly wasn't surprised to see Bulldogs go straight through. There's plenty of height in their team, there's a lot of experience and they've got a lot of basketballers in there, which often makes for good netballers.
"There's a few players in the team who were part of the times where it was often Bulldogs winning the grand final."
Results between the teams have flipped on each occasion they've met this year.
Bulldogs won the opening round game with ease, 54-28, before Collegians hit back in the middle of the season 42-36.
The latest meeting between the pair so Bulldogs prevail 36-28 in a low scoring, strong defensive contest.
Noonan said the preliminary final game has given the team an extra confidence boost ahead of the fourth and final meeting with Bulldogs this year.
"I know this weekend could go either way and we're really pleased to have just made it after finishing third. Being there is brilliant," she said.
"There's been mixed emotions about playing the extra finals game. It would have been nice to go straight through because that lessens the nerves about whether we would have made it last weekend.
"But having that court time and the performance they all put out, it gives us extra confidence. If we can reproduce that again this weekend then it's going to make for some really good netball."
The focus for the grand final for Collegians will go towards continuing their excellent short, sharp passing.
It'll be especially key against a Bulldogs side who are likely to dominate a lot of aerial contests.
"The girls' ball movement on the weekend was sensational," Noonan said.
"I couldn't fault anything about the way they played on the weekend so it would be great to continue with that."
The grand final gets underway at 3.45pm.
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