Bendigo Thunder coach Luis Alverus-Harris believes his side is well placed to defend its ANZ NFNL Women’s Division 1 premiership.
The Thunder gained a confidence boost heading into finals after a convincing 42-point win over VU Western Spurs in the final round of the home and away season.
They will be keen to back-up that performance this weekend when the sides meet again in the qualifying final, where the winner will earn the right to take on minor premier Keilor in the second semi final.
“I think the win gives us a psychological edge,” Alverus-Harris told The Northerner.
“(VU Western Spurs) are a great team and very well coached.
“We have played them a few times this year and they’ve got us once and we have got them twice and yesterday’s performance was very pleasing so hopefully we can come out hard next week and get the same result.”
In his first year as coach, Alverus-Harris is relishing his opportunity to help Bendigo defend its 2017 title.
“I think any coach is aiming to play finals and then you sort of reset and reassess from there and want to go as well as you can,” he said.
“I think any club or any coach would be saying something similar, that finals is the goal and we have ticked that box.
“We now have a lot of hard work to do over hopefully the next four weeks or so to go as deep into the finals as we can.”
Alverus-Harris has been impressed by the improvement of a number of his players this season, in particular those who have come from different sporting backgrounds and shown promising signs.
“Olivia McEvoy and Carly Latson as netballers have come in and played some really good footy,” he said.
“Bella Ayre has obviously had a really good season coming back to Bendigo and playing with all her friends has probably helped her form.
“Kodi Jacques has stepped up from the Bendigo Pioneers and played a few games for us lately as well as in Vic Country and has improved over the course of the year.”
After winning the premiership last year, Bendigo entered the 2018 season as the team to beat, however the emergence of competition newcomer Keilor means the Thunder may no longer be the hunted side in the finals.
“I think initially we were the ones being hunted but I think Keilor have certainly come in and made a statement,” Alverus-Harris said.
“They have some fantastic players in that group and have a very strong game plan. Every player in that team plays their role and sticks to it really well so they’re on top of the ladder and deserve it.
“They’d certainly be the team to beat at this stage but we will give them a good shake and we will certainly back ourselves in to beat anyone we come across in hopefully the next four weeks.
“If we get our best team on the park and we play to our game plan and structures then I think we are good enough and can match it with anybody on any given day.
“We have had a good season but it counts for nothing if we don’t go well over the next month of football. The big stuff starts now, the intensity and the effort and everything goes up a notch for finals and we know that.
“I’m confident that if we play as well as we can then we can certainly match it with anybody but we are going to need everybody to play their role as its going to take a big team effort to go all the way.”
Image courtesy of Bendigo Advertiser