Piebenga backing her young guns

One brings experience, the other brings fresh hunger.

College A and Southern Magpies could not have more contrasting experience in tomorrow’s Dunedin Premier A final.

The Magpies have been a constant presence in the competition’s decider over the past decade — although have not won since 2017.

Meanwhile, College A has not been in a final since 2014 and has not won one in more than 10 years.

It is College that takes form into this one, though.

Unbeaten through the round-robin, it has assembled a very useful team and has several players who have stepped up to higher levels this year.

Coach Lauren Piebenga said it had been an exciting week and while short of finals experience, it was handling the pressure.

"We have got a lot of younger players in that mix, so we’re not that seasoned at club finals.

"We’re just taking it one step at a time.

"Obviously really pleased to be in the position to play in the final. We’re just taking that as an opportunity to get out there and finish our season."

The team was spear-headed by shooter Kiana Pelasio, who stepped into the Southern Steel mid-season and has earned a full contract for next year.

She had been with the club since she was at Otago Girls’ High School and Piebenga said it was great to see her achievements.

Grace Namana and Kate Hartley both debuted for the Steel this year too, while it has a handful of others to have played at the Beko League level.

Piebenga felt the way those players had combined and enjoyed playing well together had been key to the success.

She knew Southern was a quality line-up that had plenty of experience in big games.

College had beaten it 46-43 in the round-robin, although did not have its Steel trio on that day.

"[We] definitely take a little bit of confidence [from that]," Piebenga said.

"But we also recognise finals netball is a completely different ball game.

"Everyone goes in there on the same footing.

"So I think we take confidence in ourselves and certainly respect the opposition and the occasion."

She said looking after possession would be key for both teams.

The game will be played in front of a limited crowd, although it will be live streamed.

It begins at 3.30pm.


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