The second-placed Fury are a game ahead of the Force (third), but the South Australian side has played two less matches this season than the reigning champions.
After a fortnight’s break the Canberra Darters are back in action on their home court against the fifth-placed Western Sting, who can move ahead of the QLD Fusion into fourth spot should they win both matches.
The first encounter between Fury and Force is the curtain raiser to the ANZ Championship match between the Melbourne Vixens and Adelaide Thunderbirds at Margaret Court Arena on Saturday afternoon.
Fury has dominated head-to-head contests against Force, winning 10 of the 11 contests. But two of their last three contests have been decided by two goals or less.
Force coach Tania Obst – who coached the side to their only ever victory against Fury back in 2012 – said her players are looking forward to this weekend’s challenge.
“But they are beatable – everyone is beatable on their day. So we will look to put out a performance that gives us the best opportunity to beat them.
“We know that whoever will take the court for Fury will be looking to keep their record intact and not lose many more games.
“So we’re expecting a tough weekend of netball but looking forward to it.”
Obst is unsure what Thunderbirds players will be made available to her over the weekend – or what Vixens athletes they could expect to face.
“We’ll get through Saturday, do what we need to do and then sit back, reassess and go again for Sunday with maybe a different 12,” Obst said.
Teenage shooter Sasha Glasgow impressed last round in their two matches against Fusion on the Sunshine Coast after being a late call-up to Force’s line-up.
Glasgow was the Most Valuable Player at this year’s 19/U National Netball Championships in Perth and named in the Australian 20/U squad this week – which Obst is also involved with.
Obst said they always planned on bringing Glasgow to Melbourne this weekend but was pleased with her output last round.
“Sasha really took her opportunity and presents something different for us in our attack,” Obst said of the 17-year-old.
Force are one win away from recording their 50th ANL victory overall.
Sting, who recorded their 50th ANL win when they defeated Fury in Perth last round, have dominated contests against Darters winning all eight matches by an average margin of 26 goals.
The NNSW Waratahs and QLD Fusion have the bye this round.
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Pictures courtesy of David Callow and Burton Photography