Northern Hawks are all set to battle out with two-time defending champions Arrows in a return grudge match, but now for this year’s State League grand final title.
Just two weeks out from the Netball Tasmania’s showpiece, the Hawks had pulled off a stunning 63-61 victory to upset their Hobart adversaries and end the 64-game winning streak that dates back to the 2014 grand final.
But the Arrows returned from their semi-final loss back in dominating touch to secure the rematch date on Saturday at the Silverdome.
Karana Flames were out of their depth in a 70-33 preliminary final loss to Arrows that did not shock Hawks captain Ashton Whiley.
The 2017 RACT Insurance League Opens Grand Final is going to be a match you don't want to miss after Lexus Arrows... https://t.co/CbF6Ojn34i— Netball Tasmania (@NetballTasmania) August 19, 2017
“Arrows are such a quality side – it’s no surprise they are able to beat teams by such margins,” Whiley said.
“Karana are a team with a lot of depth and will be a team to beat in coming seasons, but Arrows just have far too much experience.”
The midcourter said the enormity of Saturday’s qualifying win will not deter the Hawks’ game plan of attack.
Coach Ruth Tuohy had been keen to employ a strong emphasis on full-court defensive pressure 10 days ago that would take the Arrows well into the final quarter to break down the tactic.
“But there isn’t anything surprising about the Arrows’ game plan,” Whiley said.
“They have a structure that works for them and execute it really well.
“We’ll be focusing on our strengths and playing our game, controlling the things we can control. One game doesn’t change that for us.”
Whiley felt that the reassurance of her side putting their feet up to rest knowing the Launceston-based club was hosting the grand final has proved ideal.
“Having a rest is always great, as it provides the time to fully prepare,” she said.
“Our track record coming off a break is good, but nothing changes in the lead-up – we are still focused on the same things.
“Arrows rightfully go in as favourites and we are looking forward to the challenge.”
Cavaliers 19-and-unders missed out on reaching a home grand final after a dramatic 55-54 extra-time loss to Arrows. The Cavs were up by as much as 10 goals before the lead was whittled away.