The Melbourne Vixens and Adelaide Thunderbirds have given Bendigo a taste of the exciting ANZ Championship action with an intriguing trial match.
The Vixens showed their good and bad sides in their final hit-out before facing the Queensland Firebirds in Brisbane on Sunday, losing 46-49 after leading by 14 goals early in the second quarter.
Coach Julie Hoornweg used the first quarter to prove to her squad its true capabilities after tearing the Thunderbirds apart with a highly impressive performance.
The pressure of the Vixens was outstanding and goalers Kate Beveridge and Tegan Caldwell rewarded the desperate efforts of team-mates with a superb performance for the first 15 minutes.
Madison Browne, Chelsey Tregear and Geva Mentor were used in the midcourt for the first half with Julie Corletto at goal defence and captain Bianca Chatfield at goal keeper.
It was an extremely well drilled effort early and the Vixens fed off the numerous mistakes from the Thunderbirds attack end.
The Thunderbirds gained some momentum in the second period, however, to climb back into the match and aided by a run of five unanswered goals, trailed by just four at half-time.
Browne, recovering from a calf problem, was replaced by Christie Barnes at half-time. Barnes was brought into the side as cover for injured Sarah Wall.
Ashlee Howard then took Barnes' spot in the final quarter when the Vixens led by just one goal. The Vixens bagged just seven goals from 11 attempts in the final quarter while the Thunderbirds compiled 11 from 17.
Diamonds captain Nat von Bertouch, back on court after foot surgery, played the first three quarters before being rested to ensure she will be OK for Saturday's season opener against the NSW Swifts in Adelaide.
The Vixens had their chances in the final quarter but several missed goal attempts proved costly while turnovers in the hectic final few minutes did not help.
Thunderbirds 49 (C. Borrego 32/35, E. Bell 17/26) d Vixens 46 (K. Beveridge 27/33, T. Caldwell 19/24).