If you look at Orange City Craig Harvey Mechanical and Life Studio's outfits ahead of Saturday's Orange Netball Association Toyota Cup grand final, it's easy to point to big-game experience as a potentially-telling difference.
The Lions have, after all, won 11 premierships in a row and a handful of the side have featured in several, whereas Life Studio haven't featured in a grand final since 2015 and actually missed the post-season altogether last year.
Life Studio player-coach Mardi Aplin does have a wealth of experience in huge Toyota Cup games and at the professional level too though, and this year key defender Alex Emerson brings a welcome boost in those terms as well.
I've had a pretty big year and winning a premiership would really just cap it off.Life Studio defender Alex Emerson
She may still be young but the experience she gained as part of the NSW under-17 side at this year's Australian Netball Championships has served her well throughout the club season, and it's something she'll draw on again in the decider.
"It was definitely a huge experience, like nothing I'd ever done before but it's helped me so much. I've tried to bring everything I learned and the experience back to Life Studio, particularly in terms of attitude and mental strength," she said.
She went on to say being able to hoist the Toyota Cup would be the perfect way to cap off a massive 2019 from an individual perspective, but also for the side too, which she explained has worked overtime all season to earn a crack at the title.
"I've had a pretty big year and winning a premiership would really just cap it off, even though it'll be tough. From a team perspective too, considering we didn't make the finals last year it's been a massive step up and we really want to go all the way. I'm so excited, I can't wait for Saturday," she enthused.
"We have to play our game and not get drawn into the way Orange City want to play, that's important. But we have to be able to drown the crowd out too, stay composed, stay level-headed and execute. If we can do that I'm confident we can give it a real crack."
Emerson's versatile across the defensive end of the court, as you'd expect from a state rep, but explained she's preparing to slot into the goal defence bib for most of, if not all of Saturday's grand final.
That's likely to pit her in a one-on-one battle with Lions ace Maddie Cole, an opponent Emerson has the utmost respect for.
"I'll probably mark a couple of different players throughout the game so I'll take that as it comes, but I'm pretty sure Maddie Cole will spend a lot of time at goal attack," Emerson explained.
"She's a real challenge to mark. I think she's definitely underrated a bit because she's such a good player, I hadn't seen how good she actually was until I played against her but once I did it was sort of like, 'wow'."
Emerson reflected on Life Studio's loss to the Lions in the major semi-final a fortnight ago, which came as somewhat of a shock considering her navy and lime bibs had claimed the minor premiership.
Granted, they did so on percentage alone from the Lions, but they were still favourites in that initial grand final qualifier.
"I'm not sure what happened really, I just think the little things weren't working but I think it was a good thing in the end, because it gave us the chance to play last week against (Orange Physiotherapy) Vipers and come back from it, we're better for that loss," she said.
Saturday's mouth-watering division one decider begins at 3.15pm on Sir Neville Howse Stadium's show court.
- LIFE STUDIO: Aurella White, Kate Mastronardi, Em Brisbane, Soph Brisbane, Em Williams, Chloe Riley, Alex Emerson, Mardi Aplin, Alice Maier
- ORANGE CITY CRAIG HARVEY MECHANICAL: Kristin Zinga, Maddie Cole, Katelin Eslick, Katie Matthews, Caitlyn Harvey, Brooke Burcher, Sarah Thorley, Tegan Dray, Sam Spicer
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