It’s official, the 2016 ANZ Championship Grand Final will be an all-Australian affair, with the Queensland Firebirds to host the NSW Swifts on Sunday July 31, following their semi-final wins.
It was a hard-fought contest for the Firebirds, defeating New Zealand’s Southern Steel by a narrow three goals, 67-64. The Queenslanders trailed at the half-time and final break, before gathering momentum in the final term to storm home with the win.
Australian Diamonds squad member Kim Ravaillion was named MVP for the match, her second MVP for the Finals Series, with a stellar performance in the midcourt. Her feeding, particularly to tall-timber Romelda Aiken from long-range, was superb with pinpoint accuracy.
In a personal best performance for the season, Aiken netted 57 goals for the game. Her shooting partner Gretel Tippett scored 10 goals for the game, however was influential in her feeding role with a game-high 40 feeds.
The Firebirds remained unchanged throughout the game, retaining the same seven that also played out the Australian Conference Final.
On the other side of the Tasman, the Swifts experienced deja-vu, defeating the WBOP Magic by 19 goals to secure their second consecutive Grand Final berth.
In her 100th ANZ Championship game, vocal Swifts defender Sharni Layton put out an MVP performance. She collected four intercepts, six deflections and four rebounds for the match.
Shooter Caitlin Thwaites was back to her best, netting 43 goals from 46 attempts. Kimberlee Green also played her first full game since Round 5 and was key to the Swifts’ midcourt success.
The Swifts put out a dominant performance for the entire game, leading at every break, winning every quarter.
Rob Wright continued to switch-up his starting seven line-up, with Laura Langman playing in centre and Paige Hadley sitting out the majority of the game. Abbey McCulloch filled the position of wing defence and kept influential wing attack Grace Rasmussen under wraps.
The Firebirds will host the Swifts in the 2016 ANZ Championship Grand Final at Brisbane Entertainment Centre on Sunday July 31. The game will be broadcast live on Channel 10 (ONE in WA), Fox Sports Australia and the Netball Live App.