Orange City Craig Harvey Mechanical won't lack experience in Saturday’s Toyota Cup grand final, but for Maddie Cole, Ellie Madden and Olivia McClure, it’ll be their first taste of Orange Netball Association’s biggest stage.
While Madden rejoined Orange City this season Cole and McClure were both in the Lions’ second-string side in 2017, but shifted to CHM this year when the club decided to split its two top-flight sides evenly.
The trio has flourished playing alongside the likes of multiple premiership-winners Tegan Dray and Sammie Spicer, with 17-year-old Cole – the youngest of the three – lauding the influence those senior players have had in their mentoring roles.
“It’s been really good, I’ve learned a lot from [the senior players], especially playing with Sammie. I got thrown into circle defence this year and she’s been really helpful,” Cole said.
Cole did admit to some nerves ahead of her maiden division one decider, and said her side’s expecting to meet a ferocious Orange Physiotherapy outfit, one that’s gunning to back up its major semi-final win over CHM.
“I’m a bit nervous, but really excited,” Cole said.
Although she’s featured heavily in the Lions’ mid-court too, Cole is expected to form part of a stellar Lions’ defensive cast again on Saturday, one that stifled Orange City Newey’s Drive Thru Cleaners’ shooters superbly in last weekend’s preliminary final win.
“[What I focus on] depends on where I’m playing, but if it’s in the circle rebounds are a big thing with (Vipers shooter) Teigan (Colley) in there,” Cole said, highlighting two others as major black and teal threats.
“Abby (Tilburg) as well at the back and I think Jacky (Lyden) is (a danger as well), she’s just so passionate out there.”
Lions coach Cindy Gilchrist predicted Saturday’s decider to be “a different game” in comparison to the major semi-final and the preliminary final, a thought Cole agreed with.
“It’ll be a lot harder physically, I think,” she said, but added the biggest battle against her clubmates was probably mental.
“It was hard mentally playing them, because we’re all such good friends. But we all do our best on the court and then go back to being friends straight away once we’re off it, that’s all that really matters.
“We’ll have the support of the other girls this week too, and we are (pretty confident), I think we can do it, it’s just about putting it together.
“Communication is a really big thing for us, and just playing four consistent quarters.”
Cole and her Lions are the only side to have beaten Vipers so far in 2018, a 49-38 win back in round nine, and although the personnel has changed the side is gunning for the club’s 11th consecutive title.
Saturday’s Toyota Cup decider kicks off at 3.15pm, on Sir Neville Howse Stadium’s show court.
- ORANGE CITY CRAIG HARVEY MECHANICAL: Tegan Dray, Sammie Spicer, Kristin Zinga, Milly Wilcox, Maddie Cole, Anna Matthews, Olivia McClure, Ellie Madden, Vic Briscoe