Vixens, Fever to meet in `mini-elimination’ final

It’s virtually a mini-elimination final for the Melbourne Vixens when they travel across the country to face West Coast Fever in Round 8 of the ANZ Championship.

The Vixens sit two points behind Fever on the Australian Conference ladder – but have a game in hand courtesy of their bye – making this clash at Perth Arena crucial for both sides as the race for finals spots heats up.

A Fever win will give them some breathing space ahead of their bye next round while the Vixens can leap frog West Coast and into third spot should they triumph.

It’s the second time Fever and Vixens have met at Perth Arena. They played in the inaugural ANZ Championship game at the venue back in 2013, which the Vixens triumphed 58-49.

Remarkably, Fever has not won any of their four matches at Perth Arena played against the Vixens, NSW Swifts (twice) or Queensland Firebirds.

It’s the 50th game as Vixens’ coach for Simone McKinnis, pictured left, while Fever shooter Natalie Medhurst needs two goals to reach 500 career goals as a West Coast player.

The Fever-Vixens match kicks off Round 9 action.

The Adelaide Thunderbirds are back in action on Sunday afternoon after its bye last round and face the toughest challenge in the competition at the moment – facing the Firebirds in Brisbane.

The task doesn’t get any easier with the Firebirds to be strengthened by the return of Gretel Tippett, who missed last week’s win over Fever because of an ankle injury.

When these two sides met in Adelaide last month the Firebirds won by 12 goals to reclaim the ANZ Championship’s record winning streak of 17 matches – that has now grown to 20.

The Thunderbirds are still searching for their first win of 2016. Their six-game losing streak is now the club’s longest without victory and they’ll be keen to rectify that.

The Swifts cross the Tasman for the first time this season, heading to Christchurch to take on Mainland Tactix on Sunday night.

They only head to New Zealand twice this season – the other is to face the Northern Mystics in Round 13 – but will do so with confidence having gone unbeaten from their four trips over the Tasman in 2014 – including a draw.

Albeit their three wins were by eight goals or less. They have a 50 per cent winning record from their four encounters with Tactix in Christchurch.