LIVE: Off-court battle headlines Super Netball GF

1 month ago 18
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For the first time in 40 years, a major netball grand final is a derby between two Sydney teams.

But the clash off the court has provided fans with an illuminating back drop.

Almost 20 years ago to the day, the two opposing coaches were on the same team, making history by winning the Sydney Swifts' first national league title.

Now, Julie Fitzgerald and Briony Akle square off in the ultimate master and apprentice battle.

Fitzgerald is the legendary former Swifts mentor and now Giants foundation leader who is the most successful coach in netball history.

While, Akle will take on her former coach as she looks to guide her former team to another premiership after securing one title already during her four years as a head coach.

Former Diamonds captain Liz Ellis, who skippered that first Swifts premiership side, marvelled at the pair's journey over the past two decades.

"There is no doubt that Briony and Julie share a unique relationship," Ellis wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald. "And yet it is too simplistic to label this grand final as "master versus apprentice", for while Julie is no doubt a master, Briony is no longer an apprentice.

"Of the two, Briony is the only one to win a Suncorp Super Netball title. She did this with the Swifts' surprise win in 2019, in just her second season as coach, thereby cementing her name in Super Netball history.

"This match is better thought of as "master versus master". Two coaches who have masterfully steered their respective teams through four interstate moves, weeks of quarantine and disruption to arrive here as the last two teams standing in this most brutal and unpredictable of seasons."

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