They may be smiling here, but Ouyen United co-coach Casey Crothers and Wentworth coach Amanda Edwards have eyes on A Grade netball premiership glory. Photo: PAUL MENSCH
By MITCH RODD
STEP aside fellas, it’s time for the ladies of Ouyen United to shine on the Sunraysia Football and Netball League (SFNL) grand final stage.
Tomorrow’s big day marks the first time the Kangas’ A Grade netball side has made the premiership play-off since the amalgamated club joined the SFNL in 2016. The senior football side, in contrast, won two flags in three grand finals before missing out this year.
To complete the fairy tale run from finishing fourth to toppling the competition, Ouyen must defeat a powerful Wentworth side who have lost just one game for the season.
Even sweeter for the Kangas is that their A Grade side is almost entirely made up players involved in the club since the beginning.
Co-coach Casey Crothers said having the B Grade side also make their grand final will make for an exciting day for all fans who trek up the highway.
“It’s really exciting, everyone’s pumped to be there,” she said.
“I think that’s what makes it really special, it’s that we are there together, not just one side.
“We’ve been training together all year and to be able to get into the grand final and experience that altogether is sensational.
“Maybe aside from Ellen Morrish, who I think joined in our second season, everyone else has been involved in some capacity since we began as Ouyen United.
“I think we’re really lucky actually. We’ve seen a lot of sides in Sunraysia change, and we’ve certainly changed positions throughout, but as far as the A Grade goes it’s been pretty consistent with the players.
“I think you can tell by the crowd we get at games that we do have a huge following, and there will be that many cars heading back down the Calder Highway to celebrate, whether we win or not.”
Consistency has been key across the court for the Kangas, as proved by Casey, fellow co-coach and Jackie Horkings medallist Kyra Nathan, and Tsharni Burns all making the Team of the Year.
Versatility has also been a prerequisite for Casey and Kyra, allowing flexibility to change match-ups.
“I think match-us are really important because of our depth, we can change the team up depending on how we’re going against the girls, which is really exciting, and I think that’s what makes our job as coaches easy, because we’ve got such versatility within the 10 or 11 girls we’ve got,” Casey said.
“We’ve done that throughout the year. When we made the prelim (in 2018), we didn’t really look at our depth as well as we have this year, so versatility is something we have worked on every week.
“Wentworth are obviously a really strong team and we will have to work hard.”
Gun shooter Amanda Edwards will make the perfect start to her coaching career if she can claim victory tomorrow.
In her first season at the helm, the Roos have won 15 games, and have only lost and drawn once each. That loss did come at the hands of the Kangas, however.
Amanda said the on-court leadership and quality depth in her squad has made her job as coach easier.
“The vibe around the girls is awesome at the moment, they’re all excited for the weekend and ready to hit Saturday running,” she said.
“It’s difficult being player/coach, it’s been a challenge but I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. The girls have supported me I’ve got great leadership out on that court. Jess Dorman has obviously been a player/coach in the past and her support this year for me has been great.
“Their (Ouyen’s) mid-court is phenomenal. They are so strong through there, especially with Kyra, she’s a player we have to watch. They’re solid all over the court, the defence is great, they’ve got Casey who is strong in goals as well, I think we match-up pretty similarly all over the court.
“We’re a totally different team to last time we played them, we’ve improved a lot and we’ve grown as a group.”
The A Grade netball grand final between Wentworth and Ouyen United begins at noon at City Oval.