The Queensland Firebirds have broken one ANZ Championship record and are now eyeing off another.
The Firebirds’ 58-46 victory over the Adelaide Thunderbirds in the latest round saw the reigning premiers reclaim the record for the most consecutive wins – 17.
The Firebirds host the NSW Swifts – who also continued their unbeaten start to 2016 with a hard-fought 63-52 victory over West Coast Fever in Perth – in what was already a hugely anticipated Grand Final replay next Saturday.
Not since 2010 has a reigning champion made such a flying start to their title defence.
In 2010 the Melbourne Vixens, the 2009 champions, won the opening five games and the Firebirds can equal that feat with a victory over the Swifts.
A strong opening quarter at Adelaide’s Netball SA Stadium helped set up the Firebirds 12-goal victory but the Thunderbirds can take some comfort from the fact that they matched it with the reigning champions for three quarters.
In the absence of Carla Borrego, youngster Kristina Brice stepped up for Adelaide and showed encouraging signs for the future shooting 28 goals matched up against Firebirds captain Laura Geitz.
Firebirds centre Kim Ravaillion was influential while Gretel Tippett continues to take great strides in her own game.
In Perth, a dominant second half performance saw the Swifts celebrate their first road trip of the season with an 11-goal win over Fever.
The Swifts led for most of the first half but a five-goal burst saw Fever snatch the lead heading into half-time.
It’s the fifth time the Swifts have beaten Fever in their last six outings with the other game a draw.
The highlight for Fever came late in the match when goal shooter Caitlin Bassett scored her 4000th ANZ Championship career goal, becoming the first Australian and second overall behind Romelda Aiken to achieve that feat.
Her Swifts counterpart Caitlin Thwaites was named the game MVP for her 39 goals at 83 per cent accuracy.
West Coast now head on the road to New Zealand for the next fortnight for games against the Southern Steel – which is on top of the New Zealand Conference – at Invercargill and Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic.
Pictures courtesy of David Callow and DC Images