20 May 2010

It looks as though the 2010 ANZ Championship season will come right down to the wire, with at least seven teams still very much in contention for the final four. By Monday night, the Championship ladder could be looking very different - especially with the Melbourne Vixens and LG Mystics taking a bye this weekend.
Saturday`s game between the Mercury Energy Tactix and Haier Pulse in Wellington won`t have an impact on the Finals Series, however it`s guaranteed to be an emotion-charged affair as the two bottom-ranked teams go head-to-head. After their heart-breaking one goal loss to the Mystics in extra time last week, the Pulse will be well aware that this could finally be their moment to capture their second ever ANZ Championship win.
The `clash of the Birds` in Sunday is guaranteed to be a thriller, both sides are in sensational form, and this game could be a defining moment for the season. If the Firebirds come out on top, they may well replace the Vixens in the top four.
After recording their highest ever ANZ Championship score (72) against the Tactix last week, the First Windows Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic are now looking for a record-equalling eighth consecutive win when they head south for their Monday night clash with the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel. Meanwhile in the west, the NSW Swifts will be seeking to maintain their perfect record for the season as they take on the well rested West Coast Fever.
You can catch every minute of the ANZ Championship action on Network Ten (TEN and ONE) in Australia and SKY Sport in New Zealand - check your local programming guide for details.
Saturday 22 May - Haier Pulse v Mercury Energy Tactix, 2.20pm, TSB Bank Arena, Wellington
Sunday 23 May - Adelaide Thunderbirds v Queensland Firebirds, 2.20pm, ETSA Park, Adelaide
Monday 24 May - Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel v First Windows Waikato / Bay of Plenty Magic, 7.20pm,
                                Stadium Southland, Invercargill
                            - West Coast Fever v NSW Swifts, 6.05pm, Challenge Stadium, Perth

BYE - Melbourne Vixens, LG Mystics
* All times shown are local times

LIVE SCORING - click here for live scoring - every game, every goal, LIVE!

Haier Pulse v Mercury Energy Tactix
  • The Tactix have won all five previous meetings between the sides; two of their previous five encounters have been decided in Extra Time. They last met in Round 1 in Christchurch, with the Tactix winning 54-48.
  • There have been ten ANZ Championship matches decided in Extra Time and the Pulse have featured in five of these.
  • While the Pulse are yet to win a game in 2010, they will take confidence out of their last two performances where they pushed strong New Zealand outfits, the WBOP Magic and the Mystics.
  • For the Tactix, Round 10 will be about rebuilding confidence, with the side suffering a 20-goal loss to the WBOP Magic last week. This was their seventh consecutive loss for the season.
  • The Pulse`s last ANZ Championship victory was against the Swifts 53-52 in Round 13 last season.
  • After nine rounds the Tactix are converting at 75% accuracy.
  • Tactix defender Charlotte Kight is third in the competition for intercepts with 22 while Pulse defender Ama Agbeze has 17 for the season.
  • Despite Kight`s great interception record, the defender comes at a price with Kight second in the competition for penalties.
Adelaide Thunderbirds v Queensland Firebirds
  • The Thunderbirds have a perfect winning record against the Queensland Firebirds, and will be looking to consolidate their position in the top four in this Sunday`s `clash of the Birds` at ETSA Park.
  • Coming off a troubled week, the Thunderbirds put in a convincing performance against the defending premiers last week to record a character-defining 11-goal win.
  • Meanwhile the Firebirds faced the competition leaders, the NSW Swifts, in Round 9. While the Firebirds pushed the Sydney-siders for four quarters they ultimately fell short by four goals.
  • Queensland wing attack Sarah Wall leads the competition for centre pass receives with 155 while teammate Lauren Nourse is second in the competition for goal assists with 105.
  • Jamaican import Carla Borrego continues to dominate as goal shooter, with the Thunderbird leading this season`s goal scoring with 311.
  • Defensively Thunderbirds duo Geva Mentor and Mo`onia Gerrard were in fine form last week, dominating the Vixens` formidable shooting combination of Caitlin Thwaites and Sharelle McMahon. Mentor is second in the competition for deflections while Gerrard leads the competition for gains.
  • Firebird goal keeper Laura Geitz is also a competition standout, with the Queenslander second in the competition for defensive rebounds. However Geitz also leads the penalties count.
Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel v First Windows Waikato / Bay of Plenty Magic
  • When the sides last met the WBOP Magic defeated the Steel 47-41 in Round 2, in Rotorua.
  • The Magic has a 4-1 winning record over the Steel. The Steel`s one win over the Magic was in Round 13, 2008 when they won 47-43 in Invercargill.
  • The Magic are the first New Zealand ANZ Championship team to score 70 goals or more. The Steel are the only other NZ team to come close, with 66 goals on two previous occasions.
  • The Steel had their bye in Round 9. The Steel has won both previous matches following their bye:
    - 2008 - Round 9 def Pulse 41-29
    - 2009 - Round 7 def Tactix 48-47
  • The WBOP Magic has won more ANZ Championship matches than any other team. Their Round 9 win over the Tactix was their 29th win since the start of the competition in 2008. The Vixens have the next best record with 28 wins in the ANZ Championship.
  • Magic defender Casey Williams leads the competition for rebounds and gains, however she also has the most obstruction penalties in the competition.
  • Magic rookie Elisa Shadrock took the court for the first time in 2010 when she entered the game during the fourth quarter of her team`s Round 9 win over the Tactix. Shadrock made her ANZ Championship debut in Round 6 last season and has now played in two ANZ Championship matches.
  • Hayley Saunders is the only Steel squad member yet to make her ANZ Championship debut.
West Coast Fever v NSW Swifts
  • The Swifts notched up their eighth consecutive win when they defeated the Firebirds in Round 9. This equals the record for the best start to an ANZ Championship season which is now jointly held by the Swifts and Vixens, who won their opening eight matches of the 2009 season.
  • However, the Swifts face a challenging two weeks, with consecutive trips to Perth and Auckland and only two days at home in between.
  • Coming off the bye, the young West Coast Fever line-up will be full of confidence following their Round 8 three-goal win against the Vixens at Hisense Arena.
  • Swifts goal defence Rebecca Bulley has been the stand-out of the competition this year, with the former Victorian leading the Holden Cruze Most Valuable Player player (Network Ten Award) by three votes.
  • Fever shooter Caitlin Bassett spearheads the West Coast attack, with the tall shooter currently second on the goal scoring list with 293.
  • The Swifts comfortably defeated the Fever in Round 5 this year in Newcastle, however the Fever had the wood over the Swifts in 2009 defeating the Sydney-siders in Rounds 5 and 12. The Round 5 clash in 2009 in Perth went to extra time, with the loss the beginning of the downward spiral for the Swifts.

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