South Lions coach Trude Yen expects the inclusion of veteran centre Narelle Eather to prove vital when her side tries to turn the tables on BNC Whanau on Saturday.
The Lions lost to BNC 42-40 in their first encounter this Newcastle open netball championship season and they meet again at National Park with an all-important top-two place still mathematically up for grabs in the penultimate round.
Souths are second on 35 points after two losses to unbeaten minor premiers West Leagues Balance 1 and one to BNC, who are third on 33.
A win for BNC will bring the pair, who play the bottom two teams in the last round, even on points, but Souths hold a significant edge in percentages.
Regardless, Yen said her team were keen to build momentum into the play-offs and she believed Eather would be key.
“They’ve always been a side you need to watch for, and they tend to make a late run as well,” Yen said on Friday of BNC.
“In the last few games they are always hot to trot. We’ve found in the last few years that they start slow and finish high, so we won’t be taking tomorrow’s game lightly. But we do have Narelle back. We didn’t have her against them last time and I’m sure that will make a huge difference to the way we play.”
She said Souths had only six regulars available in a win over Nova Thunder two weeks ago but “everyone was back on board”.
Elsewhere, fourth-placed Forsythes (31) will be out to end Nova’s (29) finals hopes, Wests (41) play Souths Pride (18) and Wests 2 (21) meet Maryville Tavern (23).