BLAYNEY’S 6-4 Group 10 league tag preliminary final win over Bathurst Panthers means more to the Bears than most would probably realise.
Not only is it the first time the club has qualified for a league tag decider, but Sunday’s Group 10 grand final day is the first time an outfit donning the famous maroon and white colours has appeared in a big dance of any kind since 2006 – when they won the old mid west competition.
The last time the Bears won a Group 10 grand final? That was first division in 1999.
Olivia Bird was eight.
Now, the 25-year-old newly crowned Group 10 league tag player of the year says her side has the belief it can cause an upset and knock off premiers Bathurst St Pat’s in the big one.
“It’s massive,” Bird said when asked about last week’s win over Panthers.
“We were pretty confident going into it, we knew we were the underdogs but we’ve been happy with the way we’ve trained.
“(Coach) Steve (Mooney) has put us through our paces, we’re keen to go for this weekend too. We think we’ll give them a run for their money.”
Blayney recorded a 16-12 win over St Pat’s in round six, the blue and whites exacting revenge in round 15 courtesy of a 16-8 win at the Bathurst Sportsground.
Tellingly, in the opening round of the finals series, St Pat’s got the chocolates in a 20-6 win – later going on to defeat minor premiers Panthers and book the first spot in the grand final.
Not deterred, Bird believes her side’s speed and youth will be key in the grand final.
“They’re a bit older than us,” she smiled. “We’re a younger side so we’ll use our fitness.”
Leading the way will be Bird, who claimed the player of the year gong at the Group 10 awards night two weeks ago.
She edged both teammate Sophie Stammers and Panthers gun Amy Hewitt on the night, winning the award with 23 votes.
“I knew I was up there, they told me I was No.1 during the rounds and I was sharing with Bec (Ford),” she said.
“I was happy with how I played at the tail-end of the season. I knew it was going to be close. I knew Soph was going to be up there with me. So stoked for me and Soph to be one and two. Very happy.”
Bird is confident the faithful Bears supporters will turn up to support the girls in their droves.
“All our Facebook pages have been going off all week, and everyone at Blayney has everything up in the shops,” she said.
“We’re getting a bus down, we have a big following. It’ll be good.” League tag kicks off at 9.30am.