Inglewood coach Tracy White knows her team is in for a scrap tonight.
"Raukura are always tough," she said ahead of tonight's Taranaki premier one netball grand final when the defending champions put their crown on the line against the Waitara side.
"Finals netball is different, it brings a different intensity. It won't be anything like last year, I'm expecting a close game."
Twelve months ago, Inglewood blew Raukura off the court 51-34.
"Raukura are a pretty rugged team. They bring a different element . . . just physical and that's fine. I'm expecting a good hard game."
White said the week off - courtesy of their impressive 52-46 win over Naumai two weeks ago to advance directly to the McDonald Real Estate grand final, had been good for the players.
"We practised twice last week and had a practice game on Tuesday night against a few extras from Inglewood. Things are going well and we're ready. We'd played for 15 weeks in a row and it was a good chance to freshen up. The girls are keen to play."
White said Inglewood had played Raukura three time this year for two wins and a draw.
"The key will be to start well, but that's not always easy. They will be wanting to do the same."
Inglewood were particularly impressive against Naumai, rocking the opposition in the opening stanza and never surrendering the lead. Their speed through the court and bullet-like passes to their shooters was hard to stop.
Raukura, on the other hand, had to do it the hard way. They first had to get past New Plymouth Old Boys and then last Friday snatched victory over Naumai in the dying seconds to win by one - 46-45.
For Raukura coach Che Tamati, it's a chance to erase memories of last year's final against Inglewood when his side failed to front up.
"We were never in it. It doesn't haunt us, but it's always in the back of your mind. It was disappointing, we had had such a good year," said Tamati.
"Last year we sat back, had the week off and the girls may have felt the season was over. This year, it's been different. We've had to battle just to get there."
Tamati said it hadn't been an easy road.
"We had a lot of young players come into the side and a lot of injuries. Plus we lost shooter Aroha Kingi who moved out of the province."
Tamati said the side had to front up tonight.
"We're the underdogs and we prefer that. They have to be the favourites, they're unbeaten this year. It always starts at 0-0, it's 60 minutes of who wants it most," he said.
"We know it's an uphill battle and they deserve to start favourites. But when people think you're not going to get there [the final], it gives you extra motivation."
Tamati said the team's phrase for the week was "empty tanks."
"One last game, empty the tanks.
"If we can come away with the win, it would be a fairytale end to the season for us."
AT A GLANCE
FINALS' NIGHT, NEW PLYMOUTH
Premier two: 6pm, Sacred Heart v Stratford
Premier one: 7.45pm, Inglewood v Raukura
ROAD TO THE FINAL
Semifinals: Inglewood 52 Naumai 46, Raukura 51 NPOB 46
Sudden-death: Raukura 46 Naumai 45
Final: Inglewood v Raukura
Semifinals: Sacred Heart 49 WS Tigers 46, Stratford 39 WS Havoc 32
Sudden-death: Stratford 51 WS Tigers 38
Final: Sacred Heart v Stratford
Vicki Roberts (Naumai coach): Raukura by two; Stratford by five
Ivy Topping (Tysons coach): Inglewood by six; Sacred Heart by three
Leanne Matuku (NPOB coach): Raukura by four; Sacred Heart by 10
Josie Cleaver (NPGHS coach): Inglewood by four; Sacred Heart by two
Murray Hills (Daily News): Inglewood by eight; Sacred Heart by 10
- © Fairfax NZ News
Have you lost faith in Taranaki rugby?Related story: Taranaki lose to Waikato
Get Taranaki's frequent news and sport updates