Orange Netball Association has doubled its chance of taking the chocolates on home courts this Sunday at round one of the Netball NSW Bing Lee West-Central West Regional League.
Both the Thunder and the Lightning will play off in division one alongside Bathurst and Dubbo, with the Lightning invited to join the top tier after the other three sides were the only teams who applied for the top tier.
But while the Lightning is the second Orange Netball Association side, Thunder coach Linda Macleod isn't writing them off by any means.
"They're a strong side," she said ahead of the weekend.
The Thunder are also a strong side on paper, with the regular members of the side like Tegan Dray being joined by a new wave of youth.
I know a bit about the Dubbo side but in terms of the other teams I don't know what to expect at all. We'll wait and see what they have in store for us.Orange Thunder coach Linda Macleod
Kate Mastronardi and Sophie Brisbane, who went away to the State Cup in 2018 with the side, have been named while Alex Emerson would have been in the side if NSW honours hadn't come her way, leaving her with other commitments this coming weekend.
Player-of-the-final in the ONA first grade decider in 2017 Millie Wilcox also joins the side, but the team is yet to officially come together as a whole this season - although they all have plenty of netball under the belts.
"The girls have all been busy training with respective squads,' Macleod said.
"We're going to meet on Saturday afternoon and go through our game plans."
Macleod said she felt the 2019 squad was a "good side" and backed them in to perform, but had no idea what to expect from their opposition.
"I know a bit about the Dubbo side but in terms of the other teams I don't know what to expect at all," she said.
"We'll wait and see what they have in store for us."
Round two is on March 24 while finals, the winner of which books tickets to the State Cup later this year, will be held on March 31.
The first of Sunday's games run from 10.50am until 6pm at Sir Neville Howse Stadium.
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