The resurgent Cootamundra Strikers are set for a mouthwatering clash with cross-town rivals Junee at O’Connor Park on Sunday morning.
Currently sitting seventh on the Leonard Cup ladder, the Strikers have been up-and-down in their maiden season since promotion to the top competition but will be relishing the thought of taking on the Jaguars for the first time this year.
Cootamundra lost to Junee in the Madden Trophy reserve grade final last year, going down 2-0 in torrential conditions after dominating for most of the game.
The Strikers outmaneuvered the Jaguars and had their chances on the day, but conceded two quickfire goals before halftime that eventually proved the difference.
Strikers star Alana Simons still remembers the loss and said the prospect of revenge was a huge motivator for her side.
“We’d love to beat them,” Simons said.
“They beat us in last year’s grade final and we’d love nothing more than to get back at them.”
The Jaguars were promoted to the Leonard Cup alongside Cootamundra but have adapted faster than their cross-town rivals to sit fourth on the ladder, six points ahead of the Strikers.
However Simons believes the Jaguars are vulnerable after losing players to other codes over the summer and said the sides would be evenly matched come Sunday morning.
“They’re doing quite well but they’ve lost plenty of players since last year to rival sports and I think they’ll be in the same boat as us,” Simons said.
The Strikers goal-magnet conceded her side had found the transition into the Leonard Cup compeition “difficult” but said the move had its merits.
“We weren’t really keen on shifting competitions originally, but it’s turned out to be a really good experience,” Simons said.
We’ve still got our strengths and there’s been a few young girls who’ve stepped up and put in some strong performancesStriker Alana Simons
“We’ve still got our strengths and there’s been a few young girls who’ve stepped up and put in some strong performances.
Simons admitted there were always going to be tough days during their maiden Leonard Cup campaign but predicted a bright future for the Cootamundra Strikers in 2017.
“Some games, like the Tolland fixture, we looked at beforehand and knew it was going to be rough,” she said
“This competition isn’t a walk in the park but I think we’ll go alright.”