Coach Ruth Tuohy says Northern Hawks have moved on from just a second loss all season, knowing that a third will spell out missing the last grand final berth altogether.
The Hawks were a part of past two State League netball deciders but after setting the benchmark through 16 regular season games, Saturday’s preliminary final with Cavaliers has set new challenges.
“We stepped into training with a real focus and intensity – I hadn’t seen that before with the girls,” Tuohy said.
“They realised we missed that opportunity last week.”
The Hawks were quick to cast aside a nine-goal defeat to Arrows to “get it out of the way” early for preparations.
Not reaching a third grand final in a row – again with the two-time reigning premiers from Hobart – would be seen as a waste of brilliant year.
But Tuohy is unwavering in believing the processes that has got Hawks to the top.
“We still have a real belief in the players,” she said.
“It’s all about them putting it out on the court on Saturday and making sure we finish the game strongly to set up what we’d like to achieve the following week.
“We know we have to take it one game a time – we’re not looking past the challenge of this week by any means.”
Tuohy was adamant facing Cavaliers – rather than a rest – will throw off any lingering remnants of complacency.
“We set ourselves up during the season with our success to have a second opportunity and we’re just going to have to work damn hard to make it count,” she said.
“I think the girls have had that realisation, so we’re now expecting a full, fast, physical encounter with Cavs.”
Cavaliers enter the cutthroat final with little to lose.
Coach Dannie Carstens believes the desire to peak at the business end of their campaign was so that Cavaliers could challenge the competition pacesetters.
“We’ve spoken around us building momentum at the right time of the season,” she said, “and our gameplan, while we’ve been invested in it since the start of the year, it takes times to form connections and build confidence.”
Carstens advocated the belief that the team learns more from a loss than from a win after Hawks beat Cavs 58-56 just a fortnight earlier.
That plan will be around shutting down supply to ace Hawks shooter Ash Mawer.
“We had a good look at the Hawks after our win against Kingston on the weekend, so we certainly have spent time on them,” Carstens said.
“We did have a narrow loss around our last match [against Hawks] and we’ve looked at the moments where we did fall down. For us, it’s all about who values the ball the best to a shot.
“We know we’re a team that turns the ball over, but we’ve got great defensive pressure and we’ve proven to be the best defensive team.”
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