Race to ANZ Championship finals heats up

2016 ANZC Competition Round 11 NSW Swifts v West Coast Fever Fevers Shai Brown and Coach Stacey Rosman celebrate.

With just three rounds remaining in the regular home and away season, the race to the finals is heating up.

Reigning premiers, the Queensland Firebirds lost against the unbeaten Southern Steel in Dunedin.

The Firebirds were without Captain Laura Geitz and veteran Clare McMeniman, with regular goal shooter Romelda Aiken surprising fans in goal keeper.

Youngsters Beryl Friday, Hulita Haukinima and Mahalia Cassidy all made the most of their court time, but the Queenslanders were defeated 66-51.

The drama continued in Newcastle, with West Coast Fever defeating NSW Swifts, just two weeks after the Swifts knocked the Firebirds off their perch.

With their season on the line, the Fever defended a three-goal lead at the last break to upset the highly favoured Swifts.

Match-ups across the court were hotly contested, keeping fans on the edge of their seats.

It was the perfect result for Fever’s Shae Brown; the speedy midcourter notching up her 100th game for the club.

Fever jumped to third on the Australian Conference Ladder, setting up a challenge for the Vixens to win by 22 goals in order to reclaim a position with finals contention.

The Vixens rose to the challenge, dominating in front of a packed house in Melbourne, defeating the Mystics by 23 goals.

Karyn Bailey proved she was back in form, netting 52 goals from 58 attempts and setting a new personal best.

Despite the Mystics bringing in 203cm former basketballer Megan Craig, the Vixens’ defence showed great maturity and vision for the ball, with numerous thrilling intercepts.

Wins by Fever and the Vixens have set up a showdown between the two sides in Melbourne next week, neither side willing to give up on a finals’ berth.

The Adelaide Thunderbirds recorded their first win for the season, defeating Central Pulse 60-46 in Porirua.

The victory was also the first for interim coach Kristy Keppich-Birrell, after taking the reins in Round 10.

Leading at every break, the Thunderbirds had a dominant display in the third term outscoring the Pulse 7-1 in the first five minutes. With renewed confidence, they built on the advantage and never looked back.

Temporary replacement player Kristina Brice put out one of her strongest performances, shooting 44 goals at 90%, named MVP.