COBDEN open netball coach Mel Starr admits she is wary of an emerging Warrnambool outfit ahead of their Hampden league second semi-final this Saturday.
The Bombers are set to commence their post-season campaign against the Blues at Mortlake’s D.C Farran Oval, with the victor set to progress to the grand final on September 21.
Warrnambool enters the contest in red-hot form on the back of a five match winning streak, which includes a strong 46-42 victory over Koroit in last weekend’s qualifying final.
They have gradually risen up the ladder this season after finishing seventh last year, a rise which may have surprised many but not Starr.
She said the Blues had been one side to impress her in 2019 given the quality of players opposition mentor Raewyn Poumako has at her fingertips.
“I think Warrnambool have definitely been the dark horse all season,” Starr said.
“It’s great to see them performing as well as they have been but I guess it is important for us to approach it the same as any other game.
“We have to look to shut down some of the things they do well.”
The two sides will clash for the third time this year, with Cobden holding a 2-0 win-loss record from the home and away matches.
The Bombers defeated an undermanned Blues side by 37 goals in round one, before repeating the process in round 10, albeit narrowly, holding off Warrnambool by four goals.
Starr said she was expecting the third match-up between the two clubs to follow a similar pattern to that of their last encounter.
She said the rise in intensity and pressure will be noticeable from the first pass, noting the need for the Bombers to shut down some of the Blues strengths.
“They’re very structured in defence so it’ll be about creating opportunities for turnovers against them,” she said.
“And a lot of their attack does revolve around Amy (Wormald), which obviously it should because she’s a superstar.
“Overall they’re a very well coached team and finals are always close, so it really is about what comes together for each side on the day.”
Starr said the Bombers would be close to full strength for the encounter, with Nadine McNamara’s availability to be determined at training on Thursday night.
Sophie Blain has stepped up from division one into Cobden’s squad for the finals, with Starr revealing her side’s eagerness to return to the court.
“The girls are feeling positive and are up and about,” she said.
“We had a bit of a practice match against Nirranda last week, it was really beneficial to get court time in rather than have the week off.
“The girls are in touch and really keen to get started.”
Meanwhile, division one’s quest to go back-to-back ended on Sunday, with the side suffering a 33-21 loss to Koroit in the elimination final.
The news was much better for the division three side which kept its season alive following a 31-23 victory over Warrnambool.
They now face Koroit in the first semi-final at Camperdown’s Mahony’s Transport Leura Oval on Sunday.
And division two will be eager to atone for its 42-29 qualifying final loss to Koroit on Saturday when it plays North Warrnambool in the first semi-final on Sunday.