Vipers to make the most of Toyota Cup grand final appearance after years of falling just short

LONG TIME COMING: Vipers have ticked a box just making the decider, but they won't rest of their laurels now. Photo: MATT FINDLAY
LONG TIME COMING: Vipers have ticked a box just making the decider, but they won't rest of their laurels now. Photo: MATT FINDLAY

Saturday’s Orange Netball Association Toyota Cup grand final has been a long time coming for the Orange Physiotherapy Vipers and now they’ve earned a berth, they want to make the most of it.

Vipers have always been considered title threats since forming back in 2015 but until this year the side has yet to make it past the preliminary final, bowing out at that stage three times in a row.

With strike-power across the court they’ve already gone one step further this year, and coach Lynne Middleton says she’s confident her troops can take another, down Orange City Craig Harvey Mechanical and claim their maiden title.

“I’ve spoken to all the girls and the feeling’s very positive. It is a big thing for them to have made it this far, but I’m confident they can take the next step too,” she said.

“We won’t be taking anything lying down.”

Vipers will enter the clash as favourites after dropping just one game on their way to the minor title and now the decider, and Middleton says she isn’t reading much into the fact that defeat happened to be at Orange City’s hands either.

“Outside that one hiccup if you look back at the season we’ve been really consistent and that’s something we’ll have to take into this game too,” she said, her side boasting the best defensive record in the competition and the second best attacking numbers too.

“A lot of it is about trust, which is a big word for us. Trusting the way we play and each other on the court, and they do that, they all trust each other.”

While many suggest Orange City has the upper hand in terms of big-game experience, with several of their side being a part of a number of the 10 straight titles the club’s won, Middleton said her troops aren’t short of that either.

That experience hasn’t come as a group in the Toyota Cup but individually, it’s a different story.

“They have all played in a lot of big games through the years though and I think they know what to expect because of that,” she said.

“By no means will it be an easy task though.”

Unsurprisingly Middleton highlighted Lions’ mid-court star Tegan Dray as a huge danger.

“She pulls the strings, she has the ability to lift the rest of the side around her so yes, I think she’s the obvious danger,” Middleton said.

“But they’re a very good side, they’ve got good players all across the court.

“The two strongest teams are through and both obviously want to win, so I think it’ll be a really great game of netball.

“There’s just so much talent across the two sides and the whole competition, the whole association.”

Adding to Vipers’ motivation is the fact Norma Corse, their patron and a co-founder of the association, is expected to be on hand for the decider despite being unwell.

“She’s a very dear friend to all of us and I know Orange City’s players feel the same way, I’ve been told she’s going to be up there which is great,” Middleton said.

“She’s had such a big influence on netball in Orange and here she is, coming to watch what will be another great grand final.”

Saturday’s Toyota Cup decider kicks off at 3.15pm, on Sir Neville Howse Stadium’s show court.

  • ORANGE PHYSIOTHERAPY VIPERS: Sophie Fardell, Em Callaway, Sheryll Selwood, Jacky Lyden, Nicole Thorogood, Teigan Colley, Kate Harris, Bridie McClure, Abby Tilburg