Ipswich v Goodna: Thrilling battle looms
THE Ipswich Flyers are ready for another do-or-die encounter having walked the finals' tightrope for a month.
The Goodna Sapphires have extra motivation to rebound strongly after suffering their only loss of the season one game short of the grand final.
Thursday night's Queensland Premier League South East Queensland Cup local derby has all the ingredients for a thrilling showdown at the State Netball Centre.
Minor premiers Goodna play fourth-placed Flyers in the 6.30pm preliminary that will ensure one regional team meets Caboolture in next week's grand final.
Flyers' captain Emilie McInally said her team had nothing to lose after battling hard just to make the final series in the inaugural SE Queensland Cup competition.
"Our last three games have been do or die so we are used to it now,'' the experienced netballer said.
"Everyone is ready to dig in.''
With an extra week between the first round of finals and Thursday night's duel, the Flyers had a training game in addition to their regular practice sessions.
Goodna comfortably beat the Flyers 61-35 in their previous clash this season.
"We've come a long way since the last time we've played them,'' McInally said.
"We had those couple of losses and we were bumped down to sixth place and we never gave up and we always had finals in our thoughts.
"We kept at it and we kept fighting.''
Having been involved regularly in finals over the past decade, McInally knows the quality players Goodna has. The Sapphires joined this year's revamped competition with backing from the Goodna Netball Association.
"They've got a very experienced team,'' the Flyers captain said. "A lot of them have played together for quite a few years.
"Once they have a lead, they don't tend to take the foot off the pedal or anything like that. They keep pushing.''
Goodna captain Robyn Walsh said the extra week off was helpful, especially after some players were sick for their previous final against Caboolture.
"We just enjoyed the break and the girls who have not been well just made sure that they took the time to rest and be ready for Thursday night's game,'' Walsh said.
"We did not dwell too much on the (Caboolture) loss. We know why we lost and what we have to do to win.
"The loss was good for us. It made us re-evaluate our preparation and mindset going into our next game.
"We have seen the loss as a positive rather than a negative.''
The Sapphires skipper said her team would be mindful of their opponent's recent progress.
"We have always respected each team we came up against during the season,'' she said.
"As shown all teams can be beaten. We proved this last week.
"The Flyers are a good team and their hunger and determination for the win is evident.
"The Flyers have a long history in this competition and are definitely not to be taken lightly.
"You could say this is their turf and Goodna has come along to knock them off, so there will be no love lost on the court.''
That is why the high-achieving Sapphires are so keen for victory on Thursday night.
"We definitely want to finish the finals' series like we finished the round and that is on top,'' Walsh said.
"Not only does this mean a lot to the team, but what this would do so much for the Goodna community and the young netballers in the region, it would be phenomenal.''
McInally had similar thoughts.
"Finals' time is always very exciting,'' she said.
"And we're very lucky that we have got a really great association and we have a lot of supporters that come out and wear the green and cheer for us, so we definitely really appreciate them coming out.''
QPL SE Queensland Cup preliminary final: Thursday (6.30pm) - Goodna Sapphires (1) v Ipswich Flyers (4) at State Netball Centre.
How they got there: Goodna lost 52-46 to second-placed Caboolture in the qualifying final. Ipswich beat Metropolitan Districts 49-48 in the elimination final.