After finishing in the bottom four last season, Shepparton United is one step away from a grand final berth.
Remarkably the Demons missed the A-grade finals for the first time in their history, but have bounced back with the intent demanded from the successful club.
Close losses consigned them to last year’s disappointing finish, with this season’s side similar to that experienced line-up.
It was during the side’s round one match against Shepparton that the Demons set the tone for the season.
While the game was close for three quarters, United widened the gap in the final term to eight goals after leading by just one goal at half-time.
Importantly it showcased Jessie Barnes-Hill as a weapon after she transferred from Rumbalara.
The Demons mostly use her in attack, but there is plenty of room for the athletic star to be sent to defence.
It is an option coach Di Hanslow will consider, with two under-17 players finding their way in A-grade her first options for the goal keeper spot that will take on Kim Commane.
But Demons captain and goal defence Kirsty Hommes said Elle Brooks and Laura Cole had been receptive to any advice passed on.
‘‘They’re really good, they’re a couple of really great girls and any instructions or any insight we give them they take it on board,’’ she said.
But the feeding into the Bears’ star shooter is equally superb as the finish, with Hommes saying there would be a key focus on stopping some pivotal feeders.
Along with Jacinta Todd through the midcourt, Steph Gorrie is also a brilliant playmaker at goal attack.
‘‘We were a bit happier coming up against Ky than the Bears, they’re a bit like us, a little on the underdog side (for the premiership), you never know what you’re going to get out of the both of us,’’ she said.
‘‘Certainly we know what you’re going to get out of Toddy in wing attack and Kim in shooter and they’re two things we’ll be focusing on.’’
United’s game against the Bombers in last week’s second semi-final showed its ability to make a solid start, not frequently seen in their matches this year.
‘‘We’ve never been up before, we’ve always gone down in the first quarter, even against bottom sides,’’ Hommes said.
‘‘We struggle in that first quarter, so it even shocked us ... we’ll definitely try and get the same run on and keep the momentum going.’’
The Demons’ speed and ability to counteract Kyabram’s game plan was exceptional, although the Bears will strive to be unpredictable.
Eager to gain a win at Deakin Reserve against their co-tenants and rivals, United is not looking too far ahead.
‘‘We’re not confident, especially watching the Bears’ game against Swans we know they’re definitely beatable, but we’ll go in knowing we’ve got to bring in everything and we can’t have lapses,’’ Hommes said.