All eyes will be on the final round of the regular ANZ Championship season this weekend, with the fight for a finals berth in the league’s last season, going down to the wire.
The Australian Conference has proven to be one of the tightest contests yet, with the battle for top place, a week from the first round of finals, still up for grabs between the NSW Swifts and the Queensland Firebirds.
Add to that the fight for third position between the Melbourne Vixens and West Coast Fever, and we have ourselves a nail-biting finale to the home and away season.
In the first of the key matchups for the 14th and final round, the Swifts take on the undefeated Southern Steel at home.
The stats sit in the Swifts’ favour, with a strong six to two head-to-head ledger and an unsuccessful record for the Steel in Sydney.
The pair haven’t played off since Round 1, 2015 and the New Zealand outfit have taken a major step up in 2016, showing all season they can’t be underestimated.
Defending champions, the Queensland Firebirds, play the West Coast Fever in a crucial battle for both teams.
The Firebirds want to keep their chances of top position alive, whilst the Fever need a win to have any chance of making the top three, and therefore playing finals.
A 14-3 record make the Firebirds favourites on paper, but don’t write off the Fever who have proven they can take on the competition’s top outfits having recorded an upset victory against the fancied NSW Swifts in recent weeks.
To keep us on our toes until the very end, we have to wait until Monday night when the Melbourne Vixens play away against the Central Pulse to lock in the Conference Elimination Final matchup.
Fittingly, the pair played the first ever game of the ANZ Championship in 2008, and will now wrap up the final home and away game in the league’s last season.
The Vixens will go into the match up with confidence after the Pulse’s difficult season, but having lost shooter Karyn Bailey last weekend to a knee injury, the Vixens can’t afford to be complacent in the must-win match.
The final Australian team, the Adelaide Thunderbirds, play off against the Cold Power Magic. The game won’t impact the Australian finals, but it will be important for momentum and confidence in the off-season for the South Australian team.
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