Tight clash looms for Saints, Swans

September 01, 2017

Swans' stalwart Nat Simpson will bring important experience to her side's elimination final clash with Benalla this weekend.

The elimination final between Benalla and Shepparton Swans is guaranteed to be a tight match.

The two teams have barely been separated in recent years and both sides have their own added motivation to progress.

The Saints stormed into the finals last year and were an outside chance, the equivalent of Echuca this season.

But they were bundled out against Shepparton in a disappointing elimination final performance.

Dylan Nexhip’s side has gained another chance, with the coach saying last year’s loss spurs them on.

‘‘We talked about it at the start of the season that we want to win a final and we are in a position where we’re happy with where we’re at and our match up against the Swans,’’ Nexhip said.

Only three players have contested A-grade finals at the Swans, but it is a stellar trio.

Coach Jana Bruinier and captain Nat Simpson were members of the club’s last September appearance in 2014.

Shinea Sali was also a member of the 2013 series, returning to the club this season after two years.

Bruinier was hopeful her young talents could withstand the hype, having last week performed during a must-win game against Rochester.

‘‘It’ll be interesting to see how they combat that nervousness that’s going to come with the finality of an elimination final,’’ she said.

‘‘There was a bit of pressure in our performances week-to-week recently and a little bit more against Rochy which was do-or-die, but this is a bigger occasion.’’

She said her team had come a long way since the beginning of the season in how it responded to tense situations.

‘‘We’ve got a little bit more maturity, we’ve grown a huge amount this year, so we just need to execute our game plan under pressure, have that little bit of maturity, focus on the team structures and ride out the game,’’ Bruinier said

While the game will be played at Benalla Showgrounds, Nexhip said that was not necessarily an advantage.

‘‘I think it’s good that we’re familiar with the surrounds, but we don’t want to be too relaxed and treat it like another game, we want to prepare like it’s a final,’’ he said.

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