Massive derbies highlight netball round
Two massive Australian derbies highlight a potential season-shaping round in the trans-tasman netball competition.
While New Zealand’s Northern Mystics (14 points) lead the ten-team ladder, only four points separate them from the next four teams, all of them Australian.
Super Sunday brings together Queensland Firebirds (10) and NSW Swifts (12) in Brisbane, followed a couple of hours later by Melbourne Vixens (12) up against Adelaide Thunderbirds (12).
The defending champion Firebirds have won four in a row, but can’t afford a slip up against the Swifts, who have peeled off six straight victories.
“It’s crunch time for us, it’s pretty much do or die,” Firebirds’ defender Jacinta Messer told AAP.
NSW have lost all three games they have played at Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.
“I’m sure that won’t be an issue, it definitely won’t come into our heads,” Swifts co-captain and midcourt ace Kimberlee Green told AAP.
The winner of the Vixens-Thunderbirds clash will take top spot on percentage from the Mystics, who have a bye.
“I think the Swifts-Firebirds game is absolutely pivotal to both teams chances,” Thunderbirds’ coach Jane Woodlands-Thompson told AAP.
“The Swifts are on a six-game winning streak and they are the ones that have really snuck up behind everybody.
“With Firebirds you just never know. Any team with Romelda Aiken there can win a game on any given day against anyone if she gets hot.
“That really is a season-defining fixture as well as ours.”
Early season pacesetter Melbourne will be out to snap a three-match losing streak, with the last two defeats coming at home.
“We’ve probably just lost a little edge and the game has become very physical and we’ve got to learn to cope with that,” Vixens’ coach Julie Hoornweg said.
“They’ve got international performers in their team, so it’s going to take us playing at our best to beat them.”
The two all-New Zealand matches in the round pit Tactix (2) against Pulse (8) in Christchurch on Sunday and Magic (8) against Steel (4) in Hamilton on Monday.
Mystics and West Coast Fever (4) each have a bye.© AAP 2013
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