WITH six rounds in the books, Saturday’s meeting between Hawks Central Fitness and Life Studio Mid West Eyes is a crucial one.
The Orange Netball Association Toyota Cup takes the top four sides into the post-season, and both teams know if they want to be there a win on Saturday is close to essential.
Hawks and Life Studio Mid West Eyes are sitting in seventh and sixth respectively, and will meet for the first time in 2017 in round seven this weekend.
Hawks coach Tash Rudd, who actually plays for the Hawks Royal side, is predicting a close game but expects her side’s experience will be the difference against the youthful Life Studio outfit.
“This is a massive one for us, I think we match up quite well (with Life Studio) and we know it’s going to go down to the wire,” Rudd said.
“Both teams have a lot of players that are new to division one but we have some older, more experienced girls.”
Each team has lost two in a row, so it’s fair to say all 14 players will show desperation on Saturday.
Holding a one-and-five record, Rudd concedes her side hasn’t hit its straps yet this season, explaining there’s plenty of room for improvement.
In short, Rudd knows her side is better than its record reflects.
“We’re not playing to where we should be at the moment,” she said.
Rudd explained her side has given away possession cheaply far too often in 2017, and struggled to capatalise on attacking opportunities.
The former is something the competition’s top sides rarely do, while the latter is something the likes of Orange City, Vipers and Hawks Royal do constantly.
“Our defensive line has been solid all season (but) we’ve been turning over a lot of ball,” Rudd said.
“We’ve been slogging it out, getting intercepts and creating chances but we need to improve our transition to the centre circle.
“We’re a little unorthodox but we need more structure.”
A win on Saturday could see Hawks in fifth and with a meeting against last-ranked Kinross around the corner, they might be knocking on the door of the top four shortly.
The match starts at 3:50pm on Saturday at Sir Neville Howse Stadium, it’s the fourth of this weekend’s round seven games.
In two of Saturday’s other fixtures, Orange City takes on Kinross (1.10pm) and Life Studio plays Orange City Newey’s Drive-Thru Cleaners (2.30pm).
The other game at 2.30pm is a mouth-watering, second-versus-third showdown between Vipers and Hawks Royal.
The two sides have lost one game apiece in 2017, both to competition leaders and reigning nine-time champions Orange City.
While Orange City remains undeniable title favourites, Vipers and Hawks Royal are the two sides which look most likely to knock the Lions off.
Saturday’s match-up affords the two sides their first look at each other this season.