Classic showdown: Ipswich after Goodna's crown
APART from regional bragging rights, the Goodna Sapphires and Ipswich Flyers have added motivation to win Friday night's intriguing South East Queensland Cup grand final.
The supremely successful Sapphires are chasing a hat-trick of major victories, appreciating support from the Goodna Netball Association.
The focussed and formidable Flyers are aiming for their first SEQ Cup title having been the only side to beat the Sapphires in the past three SEQ Cup seasons.
In previous clashes this year, the Sapphires held out the Flyers 68-47 the first time they met.
The Flyers ended the Sapphires' unbeaten run with a 60-56 victory heading into the semi-finals.
Goodna Sapphires captain Robyn Walsh said lining up for a third consecutive grand final was hugely satisfying.
"Firstly for the Sapphires, we see it as a huge achievement and we are very proud of ourselves,'' Walsh said.
"We play good consistent netball throughout the season, which puts us in this position, and it feels like a reward for having done so.
"Secondly for the Goodna Netball Association, it really shines a light on the association and gives the youth something to strive for. We are appreciative to Goodna Netball Association for letting us represent them and then to win. It is our way of saying thank you.''
Walsh said the main ingredient in her team's consistent season was "believing in each other''.
"We thoroughly enjoy playing and do not take anything too serious,'' she said, preparing for Friday night's game at the Queensland State Netball Centre.
"We are respectful of who our opponents are, but at the end of the day we are just getting out on the court to play some netball and have fun doing it.''
Ipswich Flyers coach Nicole Grant has played a vital role in guiding a promising team to the next level - a grand final.
"This opportunity gives the Flyers the chance to take out the reigning premiers, who up until this season, hadn't lost a game,'' Grant said.
"To win a grand final over an opposition with that history will be extremely satisfying for the team.''
In her first year coaching the side, Grant said the Flyers' team culture was a key attribute.
"It's believing in each other, having the right attitude on and off court and commitment to the team,'' she said.
"We also have incredible depth in our team. If someone had to miss a game, we were always able to fill the gap with little to no disruption.''
Pool A competition leaders Goodna qualified for another grand final by overpowering Pool B second placegetters Western Districts 81-39 in the semi-final.
"We did not know much about them so we where ready for what they had to throw at us. We just wanted to make sure we concentrated on the game, without thinking of possibly the grand final,'' Walsh said.
Walsh was pleased how her team responded in the semi-final after a bye following their first defeat to the Flyers.
"We started really well early, which is not a strong point of our team and something we have tried to work on,'' she said.
"We also played out each quarter and did not take the foot off as such. Everyone individually played so well and as a team it was a great performance.
"I would have to say that it was possibly one of our best games all season.''
Grant was also encouraged by her team's 72-39 victory over Carina, also the first time the sides had met this season.
"To win a semi-final by that margin was extremely satisfying,'' she said.
"I was able to play my entire team which isn't very common in finals.
"It really demonstrates what level we are playing at. It also cemented to me that this team is able to adjust to the unknown.''
Walsh said the Sapphires were "good to go'' in the grand final with no injuries.
Grant said the Flyers were "absolutely pumped'' for the local derby.
"They won't take this opportunity for granted and they will be putting it all out there on Friday night,'' she said.
"We have a couple of minor injuries which I am sure won't be felt with the adrenalin of a grand final.
"I have had the pleasure of coaching 12 incredible athletes this season.
"Every single one of them has contributed to getting the Flyers to the grand final.
"I couldn't be more proud of the team and what they have already achieved.''
SEQ Cup grand final: Friday (7.50pm) - Goodna Sapphires v Ipswich Flyers at Queensland State Netball Centre.
Semi-finals: Goodna Sapphires def Western Districts 81-39, Ipswich Flyers def Carina 72-39.
Goodna Sapphires: Robyn Walsh (captain), Rebecca Asquith, Tayla Collie, Beth Thornton, Renee Keith, Angela Ray, Renee Kalalo, Christine Peever, Sarah Cullen-Reid. Coach: David Eustace. Manager: Lauren Lavea.
Ipswich Flyers: Tara Bramwell (co-captain), Melissa Beutel (co-captain), Emilie McInally (co-captain), Chloe Roberts, Meg Bowmaker, Selena Hirsch, Charisma Tuupo, Tahlia Vandenberg, Kirsty Brennan, Bridget Cumming, Skye Sippel, Abbey Gallagher. Coach: Nicole Grant. Assistant coach: Vada Hoger. Manager: Mel de Kleyn.