The captains of this year’s NAB League Girls Grand Final teams are both using previous experience at the heights of the competition to drive their quest for premiership glory this weekend.
For Northern Knights skipper Gabrielle Newton, her team’s 11-point defeat at the hands of the Geelong Falcons in last year’s decider will serve as potent motivation when the Knights face the Calder Cannons at Ikon Park from 2pm on Saturday.
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“We know what it’s like to be on the other side of the equation (defeated) on Grand Final day,” Newton said at the NAB League Girls Grand Final press conference on Wednesday. “We definitely don’t want that to happen again this year, so it adds extra fuel to the fire.
“I think this year’s been more like a slow build-up with our game (compared to 2018). We probably weren’t playing the way we wanted to at the start (of the season), but now we’re getting into the later stages of the season we’re playing our game.”
Newton pointed to minor premier Northern’s trademarks during a so-far unbeaten season as a “big running game” while proving “fast and hard-hitting”.
The versatile top-age midfielder said the Knights would need to be on their guard against an opponent that pulled off an upset 35-point victory over Geelong in Saturday’s preliminary final.
“Calder have a few extremely talented players who stand out week on week, but I think they have a really even spread (of contributors),” Newton said. “There’ll be some interesting match-ups, but I think we’ll give everyone respect and then try to play our game.”
Cannons captain Georgia Patrikios was part of the club’s premiership-winning campaign in the competition’s inaugural season of 2017, when the likes of Chloe Molloy (now at Collingwood AFLW) and Madison Prespakis (Carlton) led younger teammates to success.
Now, the prolific on-baller – like Newton, a member of the 2019 under-18 girls Vic Metro squad – is helping show a particularly young Calder group what the team is capable of.
“It was a bit of a shock (to win against Geelong), but I suppose we knew we had it in us,” Patrikios said at the Grand Final press conference. “It’ll be good coming up against the Knights and showing them what we can do.
“It’s a lot different this time (to 2017). This time it’s actually a Grand Final, whereas last time we just finished on top of the ladder. It’ll be a new experience for a lot of us.
“They (the Knights) have a good list and a good spread of talent. We’ll go into the game as we usually do and identify some players and have some match-ups on them, but we’re going in to play our style.”