Netball champs look for first Aussie win
Resurgent Queensland Firebirds must find a way to break their Australian drought in the trans-Tasman netball competition when they resume domestic combat this weekend.
The defending champions have lost all four of their games this year against Australian opposition, while winning all four against New Zealand teams.
Queensland (4-4) have moved to within a win of the top four on the back of three successive victories over Kiwi outfits, but now face four straight fixtures against Australian franchises, starting with West Coast (2-6) in Perth on Sunday.
Ironically the Fever, who have lost midcourt player Andrea Gilmore to an ankle injury, also have yet to beat another Australian team this season.
“We have noticed that we have won against the New Zealand teams but the Australian teams are all great teams,” Firebirds’ wing attack Chelsea Pitman told AAP.
“We came up against some great opposition at the start and those teams are now starting to play each other, so one of them is going to have to lose out of those games.
“We’re confident that we’ve built enough and worked enough on our weaknesses and strengths to be able to beat those teams now.
“I don’t think we’ve played even a good 40 minutes at the start of the season when we were losing.
“For us to put out a good 60-minute game, I have all confidence that no team can beat us when we are at our best.”
The other Australian derby later on Sunday brings together Melbourne Vixens (6-2) and NSW Swifts (5-2) at Hisense Arena.
The Swifts have won five in a row – all at home – while the Vixens are coming off successive losses to NSW and the Mystics (6-2), after starting the season with five straight victories.
Vixens’ co-captain Madison Browne said it was time for her team to prove they were real premiership contenders following their recent stumbles.
“We haven’t played our best netball recently so we need to stop talking about what we could have done better and put it into action,’ Browne said.
“Its time to step it up.”
Swifts’ coach Lisa Beehag was looking for a more complete 60-minute performance from her team than the one it produced in their recent victory over the Vixens.
The two New Zealand derbies pit the Mystics against the Tactix (1-7) in Auckland on Sunday and the Steel (2-5) against the Pulse (3-5)in Dunedin on Monday.
Adelaide Thunderbirds (6-2) and the Magic (4-4) each have a bye.© AAP 2013
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