Dramatic round re-shapes ladder

240314-MYS-THD-022THREE Australian sides make up the top four of the ANZ Championship a third of the way into the season.

But Round 4 will be remembered as one of the closest in the league’s history with the Adelaide Thunderbirds’ league-record winning streak coming to an end in a dramatic contest against the Northern Mystics in Auckland.

The Mystics triumphed 71-68 in extra time, the Thunderbirds first defeat since Round 2 last season.

The result was further soured for the Thunderbirds with midcourter Leigh Waddington suffering a serious knee injury in the final minutes of regulation time.

The NSW Swifts bounced back from its narrow loss to the Thunderbirds the previous week to claim a 53-48 win over the Queensland Firebirds in Sydney.

The Swifts got away to a flyer to lead by 10 goals at quarter time and watched as the Firebirds pegged that lead back to just three mid-way through the second term.

NSW SWifts vs Queensland FirebirdsBut the Swifts, led by their captain Kimberlee Green, were able to keep the Firebirds at arms length for the remainder of the game to consolidate their spot inside the top four.

With Paige Hadley and Taylah Davies suffering season-ending injuries and Brooke Miller sidelined with a knee problem, the Swifts called up former Firebirds and Melbourne Vixens midcourter Sarah Wall as a replacement player for the match.

It was her first ANZ Championship appearance since July 2012 and she played the entire game at wing defence.

“(We’re a) gutsy team,” Green said. “We’ve got an amazing team, amazing personal.

“At the moment we’re running low (on players) but we’ve got all these players coming in and doing such as great job for us.”

It was mixed results for the Australian sides, with the West Coast Fever suffering a one-goal loss to the Southern Steel in Dunedin to open Round 5 on Saturday afternoon.

Despite another 50-goal haul by Caitlin Bassett – her second consecutive effort – the Fever went down 66-65 on the first match of their double header road trip in New Zealand.

They take on the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic this Sunday.

The Magic remains unbeaten under new coach and former Swifts mentor Julie Fitzgerald following a 49-44 win over the Melbourne Vixens.

It was the Vixens second straight loss at Hisense Arena and they now face a tough stretch with four matches away from home in the next five weeks.

The Magic is on top of the ladder as the only unbeaten side after four matches with the Thunderbirds, Swifts and Vixens rounding out the top four.