Semi-final preview: Orange netball rivals to clash ahead of knockout game

INNER CIRCLE: Two blues attack star Kellie Watson has been good for Royal Hawks this season. Photo: LUKE SCHUYLER   0816lsnetty1

INNER CIRCLE: Two blues attack star Kellie Watson has been good for Royal Hawks this season. Photo: LUKE SCHUYLER 0816lsnetty1

THE 2014 Orange Netball Association’s Toyota Cup finals have come a week early on Saturday when High A and Royal Hawks clash in the premiership’s final round at Anzac Park.

The two sides sit third and fourth respectively on this year’s ladder, and, irrespective of the result, both High A and Hawks will clash in next weekend’s minor semi-final.

But with the idea of gaining some crucial late-season momentum firmly in mind, Royal Hawks captain-coach Amanda Hurford was calling for a greater intensity and better teamwork from her two-blue girls ahead of Saturday’s opening centre pass.

“We need to complete each quarter,” she said.

“Although we didn’t get the result, I think we went really well last week against Life Studio and if we can lift again and work as a team we’ll perform well.”

The final round of this year’s regular season also pits Life Studio against KWS 1sts, Life Studio DVM Embroidery against defending premiers Robin Hood Orange Glass and then Hawks Ace Drilling against CYMS Gladiators.

But the High A and Royal Hawks clash is the one with the most intrigue.

“Hawks have always been a side we’ve enjoyed strong competition with,” High A coach Tegan Dray said.

“And, as all sides have, Hawks have improved steadily as the season has progressed. 

“They’ve had to deal with a few combination readjustments with Rousey (Amanda Hurford) being out, but they’ve handled that well.

“I’m just hoping for a good performance from our side.”

With Robin Hood and Life Studio enjoying an unrivalled stranglehold on the top two places on the ONA division one ladder, both Royal Hawks and High A have fought out the minor semi-final in 2013 and 2012.

Last year it was Hawks who came out on top, claiming a 51-50 thriller, while the year before it was the students who prevailed, 49-34.

It means both High A and Royal Hawks enjoy a strong Toyota Cup rivalry.

While looking forward to the contest, Dray admitted her side’s goals weren’t solely focused on today’s game.

“Our first goal is always making the finals, and after that hopefully we can push towards a final place. We’ve got the final 16 in the state coming up too so there’s plenty on our plate along with the semis as well,” she said.

Saturday’s game between High A and Royal Hawks is at 2.30pm.

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