WILL it be glory for the defending champions or can their opponents spring an upset and put an end to their run of grand final woes?
That's the scenario for this Saturday's Bathurst Netball Association A grade grand final where Bulldogs Verdelho look to win a second straight crown while the Panthers are back into the decider for the first time since 2020.
It's been six years since Bulldogs and Panthers last met in an A grade final, where the Verdelho squad came away 43-31 winners, but now two completely different Bulldogs and Panthers squads come together this Saturday at the John Matthews Sporting Complex.
Bulldogs go into the match as favourites having dropped just a single game this season, though Panthers weren't far away in Verdelho's 42-36 major semi-final win.
That result forced Panthers to take the longer path to the grand final.
They survived a third quarter fightback from old rivals Collegians Mystified to run out 39-31 winners and earn a rematch with the Bulldogs this Saturday.
Bulldogs coach Kate Burns said her side are keen for the big game after a stop-start year.
"We were hoping to do quite well this year even with a different line up. It can take some time to figure out your combinations but we've had a really good season," she said.
"It's been a bit of a disjointed season. We only got to play eight games across the 14 rounds.
"The first half of that semi-final was not great - we were down by 12 at one point - but our second half was a lot better. Because we hadn't played a lot it really showed in that first half, but we had a huge turnaround. That was really confidence building."
The minor premiership meant a lot to Burns in a year where their two biggest rivals have been right on their heels.
"We were glad to get straight through because playing either Panthers or Collegians in that one would have been tough," Burns said.
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"Panthers have been strong all year, and over the last few years as well, so I'm not surprised to see them there and I think it'll be a really tough game."
Panthers are out to turn their grand final fortunes around.
Following the 2017 loss to Bulldogs the club would reach the next three deciders, dropping all of them against Collegians.
After missing out last year Panthers find themselves back in the big game and captain Maddi Johnson is keen for the opening whistle.
"We're nervous but excited. Any game against Bulldogs is always a tough one. It should be a great game to watch," she said.
"When we played them in the semi-final we were up at half-time but we couldn't quite get there. Hopefully this time we can put together four strong quarters.
"This is my third year with Panthers and it's my first grand final so it's an exciting game for everybody."
The A grade grand final gets underway from 3pm.
Bulldogs Verdelho: Molly Dowling, Kira Dowling, Alysha Bright, Alisha Glasgow, Jess Matthews, Sarah Shackleton, Nardia Surawski, Rachel Murray, Teagan Edwards
Panthers: Abi Williams, Isobel Gilkes, Bronte Cullen-Ward, Phoebe Moller, Clancy Best, Charlie Lynch, Charlee Small, Grace Kemp, Kathryn Richardson, Thalia Ruming, Maddi Johnson, Angela Best (manager)
List of recent Bathurst Netball Association A grade winners:
- 2022: Bulldogs Verdelho defeated Collegians Mystified 50-44
- 2021: No grand final held
- 2020: Collegians Mystified defeated Panthers 39-28
- 2019: Collegians Mystified defeated Panthers 43-33
- 2018: Collegians Mystified defeated Panthers 42-38
- 2017: Bulldogs Verdelho defeated Panthers 43-31