Adelaide Thunderbirds head for ETSA Park - and they`re red hot
And if it taught them nothing else, it hammered home the message that in this exciting new Trans Tasman competition you are only as good as your next game.
Which is why the focus of coach Jane Woodlands and her merry band of giant killers is totally focused on the SKOPE Tactix – the team breathing down their neck on the ANZ Championship ladder.
Before making last week’s trip, Woodlands admitted she preferred road games because they meant the players had nothing to concentrate on but netball.
And it will be that intensity she will be expecting from her team when it takes the court at ETSA Park on Sunday afternoon.
“There is always that slight risk you lose your edge when you come home, everything is that more relaxed, you are not necessarily thinking 100 per cent netball,” Woodlands says.
“You only have to give a team in this competition an inch and they won’t just take a mile – they will tear you apart,” she says.
“With the imports and the world’s two most dominant sides in the one competition the ANZ Championship have raised the game to an unparalleled level and in many ways it is like a world championship – you don’t let up until it is all over.
“That was why we put in so much pre-season fitness and psychological work, to try and bring it all together and learn how to keep it that way for a long season with a lot of travel and a lot of pressure and expectation.”
The SKOPE Tactix also marks the return of Adelaide crowd favourite Demelza Fellowes.
Fellowes, who came out of semi-retirement to sign with the New Zealand team, has been off the court as a Thunderbird for two seasons and is sure to get a warm reception despite wearing the wrong uniform on Sunday.
An intimidating 188 centimetres, Fellowes is an equally intimidating player when in top form, with an unusual style that carried her as far as the Australian squad before she diverted her career to coaching, taking over the SASI Sparrows.
Sunday is also another must-win as next week the girls are back on a plane and headed four-plus hours east to Auckland and a date with LG Northern Mystics – yet another of the teams in the mix for a top four spot.
While Woodlands says she and the coaching brains trust are still finetuning the on-court lineup – there have been changes to every third since last season – one area where she has to be happy is the goal circle.
Last week English import Geva Mentor and Sydney recruit Mo’onia Gerrard were in scintillating form against the massively impressive 196 centimetre Jamaican Romelda Aiken and her telescopic arms.
And at the other end of the court, new combination Natalie Medhurst – still the most accurate shooter in the competition – and Kate Beveridge are starting to bedevil opposition defenders with their mix of height, speed and fast hands.