Firebirds set up Grand Final showdown with Vixens

_MCA7826LFor the second consecutive year and third time in seven seasons, the ANZ Championship Grand Final will be an all Australian affair.

The Queensland Firebirds set up a rematch with the Melbourne Vixens in the season decider after beating New Zealand side the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic in the Preliminary Final.

In front of a crowd of over 3000 at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre, the Firebirds triumphed 54-50 to secure their third Grand Final appearance in four seasons.

The Firebirds were runners up last year to the Adelaide Thunderbirds.

After losing to the Vixens in the Major Semi-Final, Firebirds captain Laura Geitz said the players were keen to make amends against the Magic.

“We wanted to redeem ourselves. I had a really disappointing game and we had a lot to play for and earn our spot in the Grand Final, we don’t need much more motivation than that,” Geitz said after the match.

“The younger players are playing well beyond their age and just the courage the girls showed tonight when they were under the pump was amazing.”

The Firebirds led by as much as eight goals in the third term before the Julie Fitzgerald-coached Magic rallied, as they did in the Minor Semi-Final against the NSW Swifts.

_MCA6446LThey closed the gap to just two goals early in the last quarter but the Firebirds were able to edge clear and held on for a confidence-boosting win ahead of the Grand Final.

Firebirds coach Roselee Jencke said her players held their nerve when it mattered the most.

“You have to earn the right to play in the Grand Final and we earned it,” Jencke declared.

“We played hard and we will have to go into the game next week and earn that final win. Finals are for the brave and you need to step up in to the unknown and we did that.”

Next Sunday’s Grand Final will be played at Melbourne’s Hisense Arena, starting at 2.15pm. Tickets are available here.

Geitz said the Firebirds are under no illusion about the task facing them next Sunday.

“We have to play fantastic netball against the Vixens as they are the benchmark,” Geitz declared.