The drive for five is alive for Werribee Centrals in the Geelong and District Netball League A grade.
Centrals can secure a remarkable fifth consecutive premiership when they take to the court against Thomson in Saturday’s grand final showpiece.
While Centrals have been a regular attendee to the GDNL’s top flight big dance, it has been a constantly evolving team with fresh talent added year on year.
For that reason, Centrals co-coach Nicole Stewart said there was a newness about this particular group and what it is trying to achieve.
“We’re pretty excited,” Stewart said.
“There’s not many of us that have been in this position before, so the team is quite new.
“We’ve got those younger girls in and we have new players, so they haven’t been in the position where they have been in an A grade grand final, so we’re trying to keep them level-headed and calm and just doing the usual things that we’ve been doing, like team dinners and catching up on the Saturday when we’re not playing.”
Paras MacKenzie and Lauren Winter have capably stepped up from Werribee Centrals’ B grade team this season, while Kyrstie Smith jumped up two grades from C grade.
The addition of young goal attack Jacinta Savory has made Centrals’ attack a little more unpredictable.
Savory was entrusted with the big shots in a 43-40 semi-final win over Thomson, scoring 24 goals, five more than gun goal shooter Ellie Tubbs, a GDNL team of the year member and runaway leading scorer in the competition with 914 goals.
“Ellie does an amazing job to put those goals up for us,” Stewart said.
“We can rely on her in that position.
“She’s had Jacinta Savory, who is new to the club, she’s 19, and that’s just great for the development of Centrals as well.
“She’s been able to put up a fair few shots as well and in the first final she shot more goals from goal attack, so that’s awesome for us.”
Changes have not been confined to on the court for Werribee Centrals.
The off-field leadership was overhauled after hugely successful coach Lina Iuta stepped down and co-coaches Stewart and Melissa Prismall were installed.
A 17-1 season record and another grand final appearance shows the Centrals did a good job of finding a replacement for Iuta. “She really set us up for the last couple of years, so the job hasn’t been too difficult with the calibre of players and the team that we have,” Stewart said.
Centrals’ main asset is its ability to band together and enjoy each other’s company, a culture that is instilled from the moment you step into the inner sanctum.
“It’s very social at Werribee Centrals,” Stewart said. “The reason I believe that we’ve won every year [for the past four years] is because we do get along, we are a great group of girls and we are such good friends.
“There isn’t this one superstar that’s going to win a game for us.”
In years past, Werribee Centrals would be hot favourites going into the grand final, but it has been a much tighter season this year. Centrals were beaten for the first time since 2015 when Thomson upset them in round 16. They have also been made to sweat late in matches with four wins under five points.