Certainty? No such thing

September 07, 2017

Kyabram's Steph Vick has no problems running out the game in centre, with playing-coach Belinda Lees rarely needing to swap the positions of her players.

Shepparton produced a challenging contest for Kyabram during Saturday night's qualifying final.

Every team is beatable.

It is something all sides have to believe to give them motivation leading into the season, and into every game.

There is no use approaching each match conceding defeat, even if Kyabram at times can seem kilometres ahead of the rest of the Goulburn Valley League.

Off days, missing personnel and injury concerns can all present a little opening to swoop in and beat higher ranked teams on any given Saturday.

But the Bombers seem to be the major exception to the rule.

Kyabram boasts a cohesiveness many sides can only hope to create as they change players each season.

But this year’s Bombers side is extremely similar to the one that took out back-to-back premierships in 2011 and 2012.

Going for the same feat again this year, their B-grade side also made the finals, but having been eliminated by Echuca will be unable to replicate last year’s premiership.

It is a B-grade side that was far from second tier, with Heidi Morris this year stepping into A-grade when playing coach Belinda Lees was ill.

It was easy to put aside that Lees was the usual goal attack as Morris’ performance would make her welcome in most A-grade teams across the league.

Lees and her goaling partner Elle Groves met daily to shoot in the lead-up to last year’s grand final, which the coach said helped the pair’s movement in the ring.

After every game, whether it be day or night, the side gathers on a red and black picnic blanket to tuck into food and have a chat.

The Bears are the biggest threat to Kyabram this year and coach Tracey Brereton does not underestimate the power of players having a close bond with each other.

Shepparton came within six goals of the Bombers during the first meeting when both sides missed crucial players, moving two goals closer on Saturday night.

It is easy to not read into the first match against the two sides because they were understrength, but under lights at Mooroopna in the qualifying final, much could be learned.

Brereton was pleased with what her side showed on the court, despite not winning.

Logically, beating Kyabram in the first week would not have been the smartest move anyway.

Ending the Bombers’ unbeaten run would have further fired up the side in the lead-up to a likely grand final rematch.

Shepparton thrives on stepping onto the court against the Bombers, grateful for the challenge they provide.

By no means were the Bombers as slick as normal last Saturday night and while competing under lights may have played a part, Shepparton’s performance was a major contributor.

They did not allow one easy ball, disrupting Kyabram’s normal smooth movement down the court.

But while Shepparton stuck with the Bombers, Lees never felt the need to change around the players on her court.

Rarely does she change the starting seven, despite Steph Vick’s shift into goal defence and Lees herself moving into centre during interleague this season.

While Kyabram has not been defeated since last year’s qualifying final against Seymour, the Bears can boast a strong run of their own.

While they may have lost the first two games, just the Bombers have beaten them since then.

Teams find Kim Commane hard to stop in attack, while Morgan Gibson holds down the defence end and star Laura Ryan floats between centre, wing defence and goal defence.

It is a remarkable achievement both sides have had such stirling runs this season given how close the rest of the competition has been.

Last weekend’s finals showcased this, with the three games decided by a combined 12 goals.

Generally an expectation would be that a favoured team wins by at least a margin in double figures, if not a blowout.

But sixth-placed Echuca came close to knocking off Shepparton United in third.

And had the Murray Bombers done that it would not have been considered a major upset given what Casey Frame’s side showed this season.

The match was significantly different to the Bears and Bombers tussle.

It was more free-flowing as players had the space to show their flair, in comparison to the contested game on Saturday night.

Sunday’s elimination final between Benalla and Shepparton Swans was the most difficult to pick a winner.

The Saints, when firing, are superb, but the Swans are consistent and this gave them the win.

While Dylan Nexhip swapped positions constantly during the game, Jana Bruinier made just one — bringing Sarah Down on to wing defence in place of Nat Simpson.

The match had it all — rain followed by sunshine, a close finish and plenty of drama with Georgia Rodger sinbinned for two minutes following unsportsmanlike behaviour.

But as a result there will be a large contingent heading down to Memorial Oval on Sunday for an all Shepparton semi-final between the Swans and the Bears — the first time the two sides have met in September since the 2014 preliminary final.

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