Orange City shooter Kristin Zinga is stoked to be making a grand final appearance in her first season with the Lions, but she admitted the feeling is also a little “bittersweet” leading into this weekend’s big dance.
Zinga squares off against her old side, Hawks Royal, in Saturday’s decider, the outfit she went so close to premiership glory with last season.
She combined stunningly with 2016 player-of-the-final Alice Maier in the attacking circle in last year’s grand final, which Hawks forced into extra-time before ultimately suffering a two-goal loss.
Zinga won’t have the opportunity to avenge the loss, instead she’ll be trying to stop Hawks doing just that.
“It is bittersweet. I want to win, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to be entirely happy if we do because I’ve been through that loss with the Hawks girls before,” Zinga lamented.
“It was devastating last year and even though I’ll be really happy if we win I’d definitely really feel for Hawks as well.
“No matter which side wins it’ll be a great story. Orange City, or Robin Hood, winning 10 in a row or Hawks winning their first. It’s exciting.”
Zinga shifted over to the Lions after the club formerly known as Robin Hood affiliated with Orange City Rugby Club.
“My husband plays rugby union for Orange City and he was one of the one’s behind [the affiliation],” she explained.
“It was still a really, really massive decision for me though because I’d been at Hawks for almost 10 years, I love those girls, we’d been going so well and I knew they’d be a contender again this year.
“But the Orange City girls are a great bunch and they were really welcoming, very accepting.”
Zinga, a tall timber, said her first priority on Saturday is exactly what you’d expect it to be considering she’s a shooter – getting the ball in the ring.
She’ll link with young gun Milly Wilcox and grand final veteran Erin Johnstone in the Lions’ attacking end.
“Accuracy’s key, I shot well in last year’s grand final but probably haven’t been as accurate as I’d like this season,” she said.
“Otherwise, I’ll be trying to ignore the hype and the crowd, forget about the nerves and play my role, I know everyone else will play theirs.”
In just her second top division grand final, Zinga said being surrounded by so many players who have been there and done it before is a massive help.
“Everyone is very calm going in,” she said, noting the likes of Johnstone and Tegan Dray have made sure the side stays grounded.
“They were a really well-gelled team before I came obviously, so that’s make it a lot easier for me.”
Although the side’s preparation has been good, Lauren Williams and Sarah Thorley remain under injury clouds leading in after going down in the preliminary final and major semi-final respectively.
Lions coach Cindy Gilchrist is hopeful, rather than confident, the duo will be cleared to play.
Saturday’s Orange Netball Association Toyota Cup decider kicks off at 3.15pm, at Sir Neville Howse Stadium.
- ORANGE CITY LIONS: Sarah Thorley, Tegan Dray, Kristy Sullivan, Erin Johnstone, Kristin Zinga, Caitlyn Harvey, Sammie Spicer, Lauren Williams, Cheynoah Merchant, Milly Wilcox. Coach: Cindy Gilchrist
- HAWKS ROYAL: Amanda Hurford, Kirstin McIntyre, Alice Maier, Amanda Jones, Gabrielle Simmons, Tash Rudd, Erin Naden, Elise Woods, Annalise Maier, Taylah Duncan, Danielle Turner, Kellie Watson. Coach: Amanda Hurford, Marion Rouse