With the finals kicking off this weekend, everyone’s coming after Orange Netball Association Toyota Cup minor premiers Orange Physiotherapy Vipers and the black and teal bibs know it too.
“It does feel a bit that way but that’s not always a bad thing, it challenges us to keep moving forward, shift up a gear and helps us avoid any sort of complacency,” Vipers shooter Teigan Colley said.
Vipers take on second-finishers Orange City Craig Harvey Mechanical in Saturday’s major semi-final, Colley and her side are looking for the club’s first grand final berth since entering the competition in 2015.
It’s a step the side has yet to take despite being perennial semi-finalists, Vipers have been beaten in the preliminary final every year since they formed.
“We have so much respect for [Orange City CHM] as a team, they have strength across the entire court,” Colley said.
“We’ve been training well and I think if we can put that onto the court then we can definitely get a win.
“It’s just about control for us I think, particularly controlling the tempo and playing at our pace. I think that’s the biggest thing we can do to help ourselves, and stay positive and play positive all the way through.”
Colley linked with Vipers full-time this season so she doesn’t bear any potential scars from previous years’ eliminations, neither does her shooting partner Nicole Thorogood.
The pair have been a revelation in the black and teal bibs’ attacking circle, and are a huge reason the side’s attacking play is now on par with its typically stoic performance at the back.
“I played a couple of games for Vipers back in 2015, Shez (Selwood) just gave me a buzz and asked if I wanted to play, but then I found out I was pregnant so I had to stop that year,” Colley, a former Australian Schoolgirl, said.
“I used to hate coming to watch because I’d just want to be out there playing, so I finally decided to come back.”
She did admit it hasn’t been easy, it never is after several years away, especially with the lofty standards Colley sets for herself after years of dominating the representative scene.
“It’s been tough physically, I’m not as fit or as fast as I used to be, but mentally too. I thought coming back everyone would have pretty high expectations, but it turns out my own have been higher, I’m my own worst critic,” Colley laughed.
“But it’s been great coming back, it’s been a really good year so far and I’ve enjoyed every minute, we’ve got such a great bunch of girls and it’s great to be back in that team environment too.
“Fingers crossed it’s just two more games.”
Colley admitted her side’s clashes with Orange City have been “interesting” this season, considering she played some of her best netball at the club when it was still the purple-laden Robin Hood.
“It has been interesting, especially playing against someone like Tegan (Dray), because I’ve basically only ever played with her,” she said.
In Saturday’s minor semi-final Orange City Newey’s Drive-Thru Cleaners take on Hawks Royals and while the standings suggest the Lions’ CHM side is Vipers’ biggest threat, Colley said it’s not that clear cut.
Not when you consider the Newey’s side comes into the finals on the back of a six-game winning streak, the last of which was a comfortable, 13-goal win over their elimination final opponents.
“I really think I could say who the biggest danger is, it’s so close,” Colley said.
“[Newey’s] are playing some really, really good netball though, last weekend they beat Hawks Royals by quite a bit and their form probably is a little bit concerning for every side.
“But, you know, in any sport once the back end of the season and the finals roll around every team has improved immensely.
“I’d like to hope we’ll keep improving too.”
The major semi-finals kicks off at 2.50pm on Sir Neville Howse Stadium’s show court, the minor semi-final is at 1.10pm on the same court.
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