The Queensland Firebirds have been named the Australian Conference Champions for the second consecutive year, defeating the NSW Swifts in the Australian Conference Final by 11 goals.
The Firebirds have also won the right to host a Semi-Final and will take on the Southern Steel this Sunday in Brisbane. For the Swifts, they will travel to Hamilton and face the New Zealand Conference Champions, the WBOP Magic. The winners of each game will progress to play for the ultimate prize in the ANZ Championship Grand Final.
The final, a repeat of last year’s Australian Conference Final, was a tightly contested game with intense defensive pressure in the opening half.
The Swifts started strong, holding a three-goal lead until mid-way through the opening term. The speed and athleticism they are renowned for was matched by the reigning premiers.
Only five goals separated the two at half time, although a dominant third term from the Firebirds saw them take a 10-goal lead into the final quarter.
Rob Wright rotated his seven, injecting Abbey McCulloch and utility Stephanie Wood into the line-up at half time. Wood started in wing attack, before Wright moved her into the goal circle in the final term. Teenager Lauren Moore was also introduced, filling in for Sharni Layton in goal keeper in the final quarter.
Captain Kimberlee Green, who is battling a niggling knee injury, sat the second half of the game out with import Laura Langman also missing the third term. The Firebirds remained unchanged for the entire game.
Romelda Aiken was a dominant force in the Firebirds attacking line, scoring 49 goals from 55 attempts. Gretel Tippett was also formidable alongside her, shooing 14 goals, many from long range, although was most damaging as a feeder.
Young gun Kim Ravaillion was named the match MVP with 12 goal assists, 31 feeds, an intercept and a deflection.