St Mary's Men's coach a winner either way

JONNY TURNER
Last updated 05:00 21/08/2014

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Men's team St Mary's won't be getting any inspirational speeches from coach Sarah Hamilton when they take on United in the grand final of the Southland wide netball league at ILT Stadium tonight.

Hamilton has a foot in both camps, having coached St Mary's, while also playing goal defence for United this season.

The situation won't be unusual for Hamilton though, she has coached her playing opponents for the last four years.

Hamilton will "say g'day" to her the St Mary's team before the final, and then "hand over" coaching responsibilities to the team's manager, Angee Shand.

"I have a starting line-up planned but Angee's got them and if she's got any calls to make she'll make the changes if needed," she said

St Mary's were in good hands with the vastly experienced Shand at the helm, Hamilton said.

"Angee has been the manager for ten years and she knows them pretty well, she knows the game second to none," she said.

St Mary's edged out United 44-42 when the two grand finalists met in the last round of the league's regular season.

The lead got to as much as 18 points during that game but a strong United fight back saw the final margin reduced to two goals.

"Ball security and playing smart from their own centre pass," were the key areas coming out of that game Hamilton has worked on with St Mary's in training.

Hamilton was pleased with her team's 37-26 win over Ex High in the semifinal qualifying at Gore last week.

Though they were held to their lowest total of the season, St Marys won each quarter of play and built their lead throughout the contest.

Keeping their composure and "absorbing any pressure" the team was put under were the keys to this, Hamilton said

After that match Hamilton traded her coaches book for a goal defence bib, and played in United's 60-33 victory over Southland Girls' High.

While the scoreline was a blowout, the contest could be good preparation for her playing team-mates leading into tonight's grand final, Hamilton said.

The unorthodox style of the younger Girl's High team was similar to what United could face when playing their male opponents tonight, she said.

United need to be wary of the skill level of the St Mary's men, rather than any physical advantage the men might have on court tonight, Hamilton said.

Their skill level and ability to play the ball in the air were their biggest strength, Hamilton said.

St Mary's Men have a strong record in grand finals in the Southland-wide league.

They added a victory in last year's final to previous wins in 2010, 2008 and 2007.

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United will be looking for their first win since 2011, when they take the court tonight at 8pm at ILT stadium in Invercargill.

Whichever side takes out the championship, Hamilton will go home a winner.

- The Southland Times

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