Will it be third time lucky for the Stars or will the Mystics add a second ANZ Premiership title to the trophy cabinet after the grand final in Hamilton?
A new chapter in the cross-town rivalry between the two Auckland sides will be written on Sunday.
The two teams have never met in a grand final before.
The last time the Mystics finished the regular season on the top of the ladder they went on to break a 14-year title drought.
Two seasons on from their maiden title in 2021 assistant coach Rob Wright believes missing out on making back-to-back grand finals appearances made the team even more determined to get back to the top this year.
"Last year was a bit of an up and down year we lost [goal shoot Grace Nweke] for quite a bit of the season and we ended up getting knocked out by the Stars in that elimination final so I think this year there was a real hunger even more so than last year to come back and see whether we could repeat our 2021 because it was in was a great feeling in '21 and we've worked really hard to get here but job's not done yet. "
With a tough finish to the season, including a double-header in the final round, Wright says securing direct entry to the grand final and getting a rest week while the Stars fought for their grand final berth in a close elimination final was an advantage.
"We were really tired last week so I think it was really fortunate that we didn't play I don't think it would have gone very well if we actually had to play. [The rest] has allowed us to really freshen up, to get back to trainings so we're in a good place now which is very nice."
Neither team will have home advantage for the season finale as the Globox Arena in Hamilton was chosen as the final venue even before the season had started.
The Mystics have had the upper hand this season, winning two of the three regular season games between the teams but both sides believe what has gone before this season won't matter much when the first centre pass is made in the showpiece game.
The grand final will feature two of the competition's most prolific and consistent goal shooters in Mystics Grace Nweke and Stars Maia Wilson. Both players shot at over 90 percent this season and are both vying for a Silver Ferns dress for the upcoming Netball World Cup in South Africa.
"Both shooting ends are very hard to stop so I think it will be whichever defensive end can get on top of the other team and I think it will be won from the shooting end and we've generally had high scoring games when we've played them so I reckon we'll probably get another one."
Stars coach Kiri Wills says they've been doing their homework.
"We definitely look back at what's been happening in the games but this is the only game that matters now, it doesn't matter how many times we beat them or they beat us in the competition what matters on the day is that game and that game only," Wills says.
"We have done a lot of work on them and we've looked at what other teams have done that's maybe more successful than what we've done and combined it all to throw something out there."
The Stars have made ANZ Premiership grand final three times in five years but have yet to win their first trophy.
Last year they were heavily defeated by the Pulse in the decider.
"We got to that grand final last year we probably were the front-runners and the favourites for the first time in our entire being but we did not come to the party on the day and I think we've learnt a lot from that so for me it's the top two inches is the next step to make us push through to that next stage of picking up the trophy and being champions," Wills says.
"We've got the game, we've got the skill, we've got the people so we just need to really focus on doing the job and not allowing the opposition to put us off our game."
Silver Ferns and Stars midcourter Gina Crampton has won two titles with her former side the Southern Steel and was part of the heartbreak for the Stars last season. She thinks it's time for the Stars to move on.
"I do think we can handle pressure moments a bit better and it shows we just beat the Pulse in the elimination final so it's definitely been stepping stones for us but we just don't want to keep going back and thinking about that final because we've gone past it."
Both teams will have full squads to choose from for the grand final but it has not been that way all season.
"We did have a rumpty old start, we had a few Covid cases, Elle [Temu's] ankle injury was quite significant and we've had a few niggles but we've managed to get through to this point and be at 100 percent touch wood and as I was driving to training [on Wednesday] I was thinking it was probably one of the first times everyone is available at training," Wills says.
The Mystics have also been hit by disruptions throughout the competition as captain Sulu Fitzpatrick explains.
"We've had injuries, pregnancy, sickness and where it could have been something that potentially pulled us apart or made us falter it actually has strengthened us and it allowed the space for different players to step when needed."2023-06-01T20:12:31Z dg43tfdfdgfd