It doesn’t get much bigger than this. A top-of-the table ANZ Championship clash between the Queensland Firebirds and the NSW Swifts – and the Round 9 blockbuster is set to have fans on the edge of their seats.
The reigning premiers travel to Sydney to face the Swifts in arguably their biggest game of the regular season with pride and top position on the Australian Conference ladder on the line.
The home team will be hoping a spirited home crowd at Qudos Bank Arena – formerly Allphones Arena – can help them overcome a dominant Firebirds outfit and redeem themselves following a 10-goal loss in their previous meeting back in Round 5 this season.
The Queenslanders have won 21 games on the trot and will be aiming to retain their unbeaten status as well as go two games clear on top of the Conference ladder.
Back in Round 5, Firebirds shooter Romelda Aiken had a day out, netting 52 goals and taking home the match MVP award.
Aiken is coming off a 45-goal haul last round alongside Gretel Tippett, who returned to the court after being sidelined in Round 7 with an ankle injury.
For the Swifts last time around, coach Rob Wright experimented in his midcourt with Paige Hadley sitting out three quarters, Laura Langman filling the centre position and Abbey McCulloch stepping into wing defence. Will he go down the same path this week?
In the past two seasons the Swifts’ regular season match at Qudos Bank Arena has drawn crowds in excess of 10,000 – 10,118 against the Adelaide Thunderbirds in 2014 and a league regular season record of 10,370 when they hosted the Melbourne Vixens last season.
You won’t want to miss this battle, so make sure you tune in and watch the game live on Channel 10 (ONE HD in WA), Fox Sports Australia and the Netball Live app from 12.00pm (AEST).
There’s also an all-important battle in Melbourne to open the round on Saturday evening with the Vixens hosting the Adelaide Thunderbirds at Margaret Court Arena – also their second encounter this season.
Back in Round 2 the Vixens recorded a 15-goal win in Adelaide. Will the Thunderbirds reciprocate their efforts and get their first win for the season in Melbourne?
The Thunderbirds impressed last week, challenging the Firebirds in Brisbane with a gallant second-half effort.
The Vixens will have travelled home from Perth with confidence after their one-goal win over West Coast Fever that elevated them into third place on the Australian Conference Ladder.
With a chance to go a game clear and further cement their chances of finals, the Vixens will be fired up at home.
Adelaide captain Erin Bell needs seven goals to reach 1500 for her ANZ Championship career.
You can watch all of the action unfold on Fox Sports Australia and the Netball Live app.
West Coast Fever has the bye this round before beginning a three-week stint on the road with visits to Adelaide, Newcastle and Melbourne.
Pictures courtesy of Josh Brightman and Sport-in-Digital