Rich River was sixth at Christmas — nine points outside the top four — with a run home that included minor premier Kyabram and neighbouring rival Echuca.By Marc McGowan
Rich River was sixth at Christmas — nine points outside the top four — with a run home that included minor premier Kyabram and neighbouring rival Echuca.
A finals return was Rich River’s main goal at that stage in its second Goulburn-Murray Lawn Tennis Association Premier One season, rather than premiership talk.
But five straight wins to end the home-and-away season, as well as some helpful other results, meant Rich River captured one of the two double chances and is now just a win away from ultimate glory.
The 10-game semi-final loss last Saturday to grand final opponent Kyabram was a hiccup, but one Rich River rebounded from to edge surprise-packets Shepparton Bears by one game the next day.
There was a glaring omission in Rich River’s line-up against Kyabram.
Dixon played doubles only in Rich River’s victory over the Bears, and teammate Andrew Crossman said training last night would decide whether she played singles in the decider.
Kyabram’s Brooke Starling would have the unenviable task of going head-to-head with Dixon if she plays singles in tomorrow’s grand final.
‘‘We’ve got Kate at our disposal this weekend, but it’s a little bit of a unknown what capacity she’ll be at,’’ Crossman said.
‘‘There’s a fair chance she might play singles — I know she is keen to play singles — but her physical capabilities will determine that.
‘‘We’re hoping she’s in as good a shape as she can be on Saturday, because she can play a big part.’’
Dixon played in Rich River’s two home-and-away season wins against Kyabram, the second time just in doubles.
Kyabram has its own physical issues, with Greg Tarrant in some doubt because of a leg injury. Connor Gledhill would step up if Tarrant can’t play.
Rich River won three of the four men’s sets — both of the singles — in the clubs’ semi-final clash for an 11-game advantage.
‘‘Our men need to lift and I’m not talking just about Greg and Matt (Starling) — it’s myself as well,’’ Starling said.
‘‘If us men leave it to the ladies to do the job, logic tells you that Kate coming in, even though she’s injured, will make a bigger impact than the last lady did.
‘‘She’ll eat away at that 10-game buffer we had, so it’s a matter of getting down and making sure we do everything right on Saturday.’’
Starling won his first premiership in the old form of this competition in the 2003-04 season, but has since been on the wrong side of three grand finals — most recently a two-game loss to Echuca two years ago.
‘‘This is my fifth grand final and, when you look at it, making the grand final (that many times) is not a bad record,’’ he said.
‘‘It would be nice to win another one, but it won’t be a disaster if that doesn’t happen.’’
Holt-Crossman won 8-5 last Saturday, but Starling took the honours in a tie-breaker the previous weekend in the Tatura Labour Day tournament final.
Crossman said Holt-Crossman and Jonny Watson were likely to again be Rich River’s men’s singles players.
‘‘I didn’t expect to play finals last year, but we made finals and that was good,’’ Crossman said.
‘‘The kids went into the finals inexperienced and naive to a point and they realise now how much the players step up.
‘‘It’s a good achievement from a club perspective (to make the grand final), but win or lose on the weekend, we’ll be stronger next year and, hopefully, pushing to win it again.’’
Goulburn Valley Health’s renal patients have seven new hand-sewn quilts to call their own.
The winning form continued for the Mulwala seniors against Deniliquin at Lonsdale Reserve on Saturday.
The Tatura Hospital and Parkvilla Aged Care Facility, part of Goulburn Valley Health, held its annual June Hospital Collection and Open Day on Sunday with a small crowd in attendance.
Murray and Campaspe shire have decided to withdraw membership from Committee for Echuca-Moama.
Rochester Motorsport Complex will host the third round of the Golden Power Series karting championships on the weekend.
Kyabram’s first tourism booklet is to be launched in late September.
Seymour College P-4 students delight in their new surroundings.
Berrigan and Jerilderie Shires will be in separate state electorates if boundary redistributions announced on Monday come in to effect.
Heathcote Health is finalising its service plan.
Barooga Sports Club chief executive officer Greg Ryan recently celebrated 30 years of service surrounded by friends, family and past and present staff.
Former AFL player Heath Black sent an inspiring message to Deniliquin youths last week.
Goulburn Valley fruit growers may face a battle against pests and diseases this season as growers hit by SPC Ardmona’s fruit cutbacks abandon their orchards or can’t find money to properly maintain them.
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