Lincoln favourites in netball final
Lincoln University know only too well the threat St Nicholas pose in tonight's Christchurch Netball Centre's club final.
The form guide would suggest the Lincoln students are heavy favourites - they've beaten St Nics in all three meetings this season and all four times the sides met last year - but both sides need only to look to last year's final to be reminded of what can be done in a one off game.
Lincoln University had proved far and away the best team in last year's competition, but were pushed to the final whistle by a determined and desperate St Nics outfit.
St Nics had, like this year, lost their three previous games and struggled against the students in pool play but found another led in the final and led at three-quarter time.
A frank and stern team-talk sparked Lincoln enough to scrape through with a 55-51 in that game, but they would have also learned not to take St Nics lightly.
Again Lincoln have had St Nics' number this year.
They're three from three in 2012, the last win, a 59-53 victory was just a fortnight ago and fresh in both teams' minds.
For St Nics, it's been too long since they won this competition.
After winning eight of the 10 titles in the 1990s, the stalwart of Christchurch club netball haven't been crowned winner since 1999. Frustratingly, they've been in several finals since then and have often lost only narrowly.
St Nics' coach Dion Te Whetu was keen to remind his side that they have nothing to lose going into tonight's final at Pioneer Stadium.
''It's just like last year,'' he said.
''There's no pressure on us, we can go out there and just play as well as we can and play with freedom; all the pressure is on them.''
Te Whetu wasn't even concerned that his side were 0-3 against Lincoln this season or that Lincoln had lost just one game in the last two seasons.
''The side they lost to this year [Kereru A], we beat them, so we can take a positive out of that,'' he said.
Both teams will be without star shooters as Sophia Fenwick [Lincoln] and Gemma Hazeldine [ St Nics] are both in Australia with the New Zealand under-21 side.
Lincoln will still have ANZ Championship experience in defenders Jane Watson and Jo Trip while St Nics could have Silver Fern trialist Keshia Grant.
Lincoln will be defensively strong as always while St Nics' strength is likely to come in the midcourt led by skipper and recently recalled Canterbury player Hannah Brand.
Tonight's game starts at 7pm.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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