Two Australian sides remain in the race for this year’s ANZ Championship title after the opening weekend of the Finals.
Minor premiers the Melbourne Vixens will host the 2014 Grand Final on Sunday, June 22 after winning the Major Semi-Final against the Queensland Firebirds at Hisense Arena.
Unfortunately, the NSW Swifts bowed out of the title race after losing a thrilling Minor Semi-Final against the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic 50-49 in Sydney.
The Firebirds will now face the Magic in the Preliminary Final in Brisbane next Monday night to earn the right to face off against the Vixens in the season decider.
But the Magic gradually wore them down in the second half and, in a pulsating finish, a goal by English international Jo Harten with seconds left on the clock saw the visitors advance and bring the Swifts excellent season to an early end.
“You work so hard to get into the top four and you want to go all the way to the Grand Final,” Swifts captain Kimberlee Green said after the match.
“These girls have worked so hard but we just too inconsistent and the Magic were just brilliant.”
Shooter Karyn Bailey went passed 1000 ANZ Championship career goals during the match while Geva Mentor made some crucial intercepts to deny Firebirds shooter Romelda Aiken, who still shot a game-high 35 goals.
Vixens captain Bianca Chatfield said controlling the ball was crucial to the Vixens success. Having been bundled out in straight sets last season, Chatfield said she’s delighted to secure a home Grand Final.
“It’s what we’ve worked all year for. We’re very lucky to get the minor premiership in the end, but six month ago that’s what we wanted to achieve,” Chatfield said. “We wanted to win this game and get the Grand Final and I guess we’ve taken two steps in the process and now have one more to go.”
Firebirds captain Laura Geitz said the Vixens deserved their victory.
“We’ll head back to Brisbane and play the Magic and hopefully we’ll be back here the following week,” Geitz declared.