Buried under the glitz and glamour of the ANZ Premiership final between Central Pulse and the Northern Stars was the fact that both teams' head coaches hail from Northland.
Although Yvette McCausland-Durie tasted victory with the Central Pulse in last weekend's grand final, and Northern Stars' mentor Kiri Wills defeat, both women have a lot in common.
They were born in Whangārei, went to Rangitoto College in Auckland, and played and coached in the top flight in netball over many decades.
The Central Pulse won 56-37 to claim their third title after a disappointing 2021 when they finished second-to-last.
McCausland-Durie attended Tikipunga Primary School and Tangiteroria School then went to Dargaville High School until Year 12. From there, she enrolled at Rangitoto College in Auckland for track and field and since then has never had an opportunity to come back and live in Northland.
Although athletics is one of her big sports, netball is in the family blood. Mum Jill McCausland (nee Dunning) and an aunt were Northland reps and later coached various age-grade teams in the region.
At high school, McCausland-Durie played in the black and yellow for Northern Wairoa and for Northland age-grade teams.
Travelling long distances was the biggest challenge every sports-oriented Northlander faced, she said.
"I can remember travelling from our little country town in Tangiteroria all the way up to Kaitaia for netball practice. You can have the practice and then get back late that night or you've got to go and play games. Travelling distances is such a big thing in Northland to make sure that you get around places and competitions are always in Auckland.
"The challenge is isolation from high-performance opportunities, to have to move away and being able to have a lifestyle where you can work and study and still be in a high-performance environment."
She said one of the greatest aspects of being born in a small country town in Northland was you got to play a range of sports, surround yourself with a great mix of people and go down to beaches down the road.
"But the challenges just from a high-performance perspective is it's a hard place to be. And that's what I love, being in high-performance sports.
"I think the athletes are there, the talent is there, the coaches are there, it's just the distance you've got to travel to make it happen because franchises are all based in bigger cities."
Midcourter Maddy Gordan is the only other Central Pulse player and coaching staff member who hails from Whangārei.
"I don't have an ultimate goal." MacCausland-Durie says. "I really enjoy what the franchise challenge is, that weekly commitment. It's a different process to the Silver Ferns where you're a bit more remote, you have a shorter season. I really enjoy the learnings that come with being in this job day in and day out".
She and her husband Nathan Durie used to visit Bland Bay during previous summers and McCausland-Durie has been to events like prize-givings in Dargaville over the years.
The couple run Manukura School, a sports academy specialising in Māori students, in Palmerston North.
Wills moved to Kaitaia when she was just four, and at eight her family moved to Ahipara. She remembers going camping around Reef Point and all the rest of the "communal way of living".
Her dad was from Whangārei and mum from Kaihu.
The closest Wills and McCausland-Durie got as fellow Northlanders on the netball court was coaching the New Zealand A team more than a decade ago.
"We played the Pulse in the final in 2019 and lost, so Yvette is two up on me," she said.