The Adelaide Thunderbirds who sat top of the table less than two weeks ago and now face a Queensland Firebird outfit, hungry for a shot at defending their title. They last met in Round 2 with a 10-goal win to the Thunderbirds but after two tough losses, the team will need to be at their best to beat a Firebirds side coming off a fifth straight win. Natalie Medhurst is doing a lot out the front for the Firebirds with 164 centre pass receives but she has been holding her own in the shooting department with 190 goals to her name. For both sides, this is a huge game as a win keeps top four hopes alive and a loss makes for a very difficult run towards the playoffs.
It seems to be the trend of the 2012 season as teams begin to string together a couple of wins and a little bit of confidence, all of a sudden it is bought to a crashing halt. How can everything go from being so right to so wrong in minutes? The NSW Swifts just lived through this and will be looking to atone for mistakes against a well rested West Coast Fever side when they travel to Perth. Not much separated the two sides a few weeks ago, just 5 goals the difference, if the Fever are able to maintain a consistent four quarter effort they will definitely be up for the challenge. Norma Plummer has been pleased with the growth of her side over the last few weeks and if her reputation is anything to go by, the sharp shooting coach will have a bunch of tactics ready to try and overcome the Swifts.
Something else no one was expecting - history forgotten, who would have guessed that the matchup between the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic and Haier Pulse would be such a tantalizing affair? With winning streaks on the table from both teams, we’ve come to expect great things from the Magic, the most successful New Zealand franchise to date with a player list to rival any netball side in the world. They’ve been gathering momentum for the last few weeks and with a home game on Saturday evening at the TECT Arena in Tauranga, this would usually be a penciled-in win for the Magic… but we say think again!
The Pulse have been the surprise packet of the season. Currently sitting in 6th position, just shy of the Magic by percentage, coach Robyn Broughton's team suddenly look a formidable opponent as they start to put together some really exciting passages of netball.
It goes without saying that goal shooter Caitlyn Thwaites has been the most consistent performer for her side when the pressure has been on and premiership points at stake. Ranked in the the top three shooters in the ANZ Championship, the form of Thwaites has thrust her back onto the radar of Australian coach Lisa Alexander and made her an excellent option for her teammates. Partner in crime, Paula Griffin, has improved markedly from the beginning of the season to add to the dangerous attacking end, along with Camilla Lees and Joline Henry now the mid court general, things seem to be falling into place for the Pulse at the best possible time. A win could bring a maiden finals berth and the introduction of a team on the rise.
The Northern Mystics were ladder leaders for the first time in history this year. It lasted a week due to the side having a bye but no doubt they will come out guns blazing against the Southern Steel in Auckland on Monday night. With the chance to really stamp authority on the game and prove they deserve to be at the top, it is all the incentive needed for a side that has offered so much already for netball fans.
Currently sitting on top by percentage just, the Melbourne Vixens have a bye, whilst Canterbury Tactix will make the most of a rest week for time to reassess for their final matches of the season.