BULLDOGS Verdelho can end their five-year wait for a Bathurst Netball Association A grade crown this Saturday if they can produce another winning effort against Collegians Mystified in the grand final.
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Verdelho have enjoyed a fortnight's rest going into the decider after they qualified from the major semi-final against Panthers, and will be favourites against the three-time defending premiers.
Bulldogs have a winning record (2-1) over Collegians this season and were victorious in the latest game between the clubs, although statistics only count for so much when the pressure of finals netball makes it a whole new ball game.
The team enjoyed the chance to spend a weekend away from the court and coach Kate Burns said avoiding a preliminary final battle was a very welcome outcome.
"We were really happy to get straight through because having to play that second game would have been really tough," she said.
"There were certainly no guarantees of making it through if we had to have an extra game so it was great to get a solid win."
Bulldogs played well under pressure to come away with a 44-36 win over Panthers and they'll look to take another step up against a Collegians team finding form at the right time of the year.
Collegians were the last team to get the better of Bulldogs but that result came back in June.
Bulldogs have since gone on to win eight straight matches.
Victory number nine in a row this Saturday would be especially sweet against a team who have been the benchmark for the past five seasons.
Bulldogs and Collegians have each undergone their share of changes in that time but experience and height have remained two important constants for the Verdelho squad across that time.
Less than half of the Bulldogs' 2021 squad may have returned for the new campaign but week by week the combinations began to click.
"Collegians are always tough. It's hard to tell sometimes how a team is going based just on results, due to player availability, and I know that when we beat them once they definitely weren't at full strength," Burns said.
"Their defence is very strong. Sam Thompson, their goal keeper, is someone we need to be aware of because she reads the play so well. That has a big impact.
"We have a lot of height and our centre court has some great combinations. We have three sets of sisters in our team too, which helps us our a bit.
"Molly and Kira Dowling are in the centre court. It's Kira's first year in A grade and they've both been strong for us there."
The grand final at John Matthews Sporting Complex starts at 3.45pm.
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