There`s a seriously bi logjam at the serious end of the season
And the team right behind them on the ladder is the Adelaide Thunderbirds.
The sides have met only once – a home game for the Magic, and a hard-fought four goal win, in the first round of the season. They won’t meet again until the finals.
But the finals are four games away and with the competition so evenly poised, any one of the teams crowded at the top of the ladder could oh, so easily, disappear into the history books with a bad week or two.
This week the Adelaide Thunderbirds are back on the plane, headed for the Trusts Stadium in Auckland and a clash with the Northern Mystics.
This is their first clash, deep into the season, and a do-or-die for the Kiwi girls. Languishing at the wrong end of the ladder they are still a mathematical chance for the finals but every week is a grand final.
For coach Jane Woodlands and her Thunderbirds, this is one of those nerve-wracking danger games. On paper it looks at slight mismatch, but when the opposition has nothing to lose they can play a very unsettling style of netball and make life very hard.
Woodlands knows there are only four games to go, she knows where her team sits on the ladder and knows all too well where it could finish if it makes mistakes.
She also loves road games so if she has to play a team that will come out throwing everything at the Adelaide Thunderbirds, including the kitchen sink, she is more than happy to catch a plane to see it happen.
Which she will be doing a lot. Three of the team’s last four games of the minor round are all on the road and covering a lot of distance – from New Zealand this weekend to Perth in the last round of the home and away.
After Auckland it is back to Oz and north to Sydney and the Swifts – one of Adelaide’s bogey teams – and a member of the ANZ Championship logjam.
“Things are getting very tight now, and we always expected they would,” Woodlands says.
“This competition is an incredibly high standard and virtually every team is still fighting for a finals berth – being second with four weeks to go does nothing except make you a target for all the other sides determined to be there,” she says.
“With all the internationals in what is already an international league between the world’s netball heavyweights, it is like playing for your life every week.
“It will be mental toughness that will count now. We are still basically injury free, which is fantastic, and our team is really starting to show what it can do. Twenty goals last week was an emphatic statement and a big confidence boost for the side.
“We just have to maintain the momentum, get to the finals and keep it going.”
Round 11 (AWAY):
Northern Mystics vs Adelaide Thundebirds
WHEN: Saturday 14th June
TIME: 2.30pm (NZ time)
WHERE: The Trusts Stadium, Auckland
Telecast LIVE on Fox Sports 1 at 12.30pm