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Commentators’ Corner: Semi Finals

At the end of this week’s matches we will know who will face-off in the ANZ Championship Grand Final.

Will it be The Coffee Club Queensland Firebirds, Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel, Cold Power Magic or NSW Swifts?

We asked SKY Sport NZ commentator Jenny Woods and FOX SPORTS Australia commentator Sue Gaudion for their thoughts ahead of two huge battles.

The Coffee Club Queensland Firebirds v Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel
Sunday 24 July, 12pm (local time)
Broadcast: Live on SKY Sport 4 (NZ), Fox Sports 3 (AUS), ONE HD delay Monday 25 July

SUE GAUDION: One thing New Zealand fans can feel confident about is that the Southern Steel will leave no stone unturned this Sunday in a bid to beat the competitions most successful team, the Queensland Firebirds.

Steel captain Wendy Frew has already promised an attacking attitude and that is exactly what they will need to do from the first whistle.

Sighting Jhaniele Fowler-Reid and releasing the ball early has been their attacking strength all year and Gina Crampton, Shannon Francois and Te Paea Selby-Rickit will be judged accordingly.  

Defensively life will be tough against the star duo of Gretel Tippett and Romelda Aiken, but placing value on turnover is where that battle can be won.  

As for the Firebirds, they were simply superb last week and I would expect no less when they host in Brisbane again. Individual winners everywhere in this team, but their strength lies in the various units that work seamlessly together throughout the game.

In particular Gabi Simpson and Kim Ravaillion.  The pressure these two continue to create through court and outside the circle is a dream come true for Laura Geitz and Clare McMeniman.

Cold Power Magic v NSW Swifts
Monday 25 July, 7.30pm (local time)
Broadcast: Live on SKY Sport 1 (NZ), Fox Sports 4 (AUS), ONE HD delay Tuesday 26 July

JENNY WOODS: Looking at the result of the game between the Magic and the Swifts this year could be misleading.  The Swifts swamped the Magic 78-50 in Sydney in Round 2. But look closer - no Rasmussen, no de Bruin.  Can two players make such a big difference?  Results so far would suggest yes they can.  The Magic’s fortunes turned dramatically once these two were back on court.

Julie Fitzgerald will feel right at home conjuring up tactics to thwart the side she led to the ANZ Championship title in 2008.  And of course the man driving the Swifts, Rob Wright, was sitting next to her during their 2011 campaign. 

There’s a lot of mutual respect between these two teams, and what a return to Claudelands Arena for former Magic mainstay Laura Langman.

The Magic will go in as underdogs for this Semi-Final, just as they did last week.  But this is a team high on confidence, and arguably the biggest confidence player of them all, Jo Harten, is in cracking form.  Watch the sparks fly when she and Sharni Layton bib up.

In both the Elimination and Conference Finals, the Magic came out all guns blazing and set up their victories with dominant first quarters. Do that – and maintain it – for a third week in a row, and a Grand Final spot could be theirs.  

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Tags: FirebirdsMagicSteelSwifts