Nova goalkeeper Georgia McVey alongside Amelia Johnson ahead of the Greater Open semi-finals. Image via Glen Hawke.

Nova are looking to snap perennial grand finalists Souths’ six-year history of playing in the Greater Open Championship decider when the two clubs meet face-to-face for the third time this season on Saturday afternoon.

The first time the two teams met, the Lions scored a 50-36 win against a short-staffed Nova outfit. In the reverse fixture in Round 13, Thunder claimed revenge with a narrow 46-41 victory to level the clubs’ head-to-head record for the year.

Now, one final meeting between the two leaves everything to play for. Considering Nova secured the win in their more recent battle, confidence is high.

“We’re going in really confident, we had a really tight match with them two weeks ago and we managed to win by five,” Nova goalkeeper Georgia McVey said. “We lost the first round but we were missing a few key players, then won the second.

“We’re all fit and ready to go this weekend, which gives us plenty of options, and we know whoever we put out there is going to get the job done as well.

Georgia McVey has shone in defence since making the switch to Thunder in 2019.

“The team set goals at the start of the season, and being top-four was one of our first goals.

“We’re going to take it one game at a time now, but we want to go through the next three to that grand final. Definitely aiming for that.”

The elimination match against Souths also holds extra meaning for McVey.

Thunder’s keeper was a title-winner with the Lions, before making the swap to the bright green colours of Nova alongside Brooke Fennings and Eliza Lewis ahead of the 2019 season. Their history adds a heaping of welcome “extra pressure” to the game, McVey believes.

“It’s always exciting going up against your old club, there’s always that bit of extra motivation to beat them. I have a feeling it’s going to be really close,” she said.

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Close is certainly a keyword coming into the minor semi-final. The Lions finished in third with 37 points. Nova finished just two points behind with just one less win.

Thunder have two key players that could provide that difference, according to McVey. One is fellow Souths alumni Fennings under the goalpost. The other is Nova’s commanding centre-court general Katie Robinson.

McVey has pinpointed Nova’s captain-coach Katie Robinson as a key player for the semi-final matchup.

“We always look to our goal shooter Brooke, she’s that post at the end of the court that gives us all a place to shoot for,” McVey said.

“Our captain-coach Katie Robinson is another key player, she’s so motivational for us. She gives us that kick we need.”

On the other side, the Lions will be without Narelle Eather, after the Souths stalwart was felled with an ACL injury earlier this season.

Danielle Taylor (ACL), Tiffany Gilmour (calf), and Ebony Oakley have all also missed recent rounds through injury and absences. Promoted Pride shooter Janas Burgess is expected to continue her late-season run with the Lions.

The opening elimination match of Newcastle Netball’s first-grade finals begins at 2.30pm on Saturday at National Park. Minor premiers West Leagues Balance 1 will contest their major semi-final against Forsythes Business Advisors on August 24.