The big moment has arrived for SA netball and everyone in the State gets to be part of the historic first finals series of the inaugural trans-Tasman ANZ Championship at ETSA Park on Monday at 6.30pm.
And it will be a classic showdown between the Adelaide Thunderbirds and long-time rival the Melbourne Vixens.
In 2008 it is one win each – and both on the other’s home court.
But none of that will count when they meet on Monday – the winner goes on and the loser starts planning for 2009.
As big as the game is, it holds no fears for Adelaide Thunderbirds coach Jane Woodlands.
She says her team is injury free, mentally and physically toughened by a high-pressure season – and a recovery session in 1C ocean water at Napier in the last round of the home and away season.
“Our travel schedule has been a big ask, we were on the road non stop in the first four weeks of the season and again in the last four weeks,” Woodlands says.
“It took us three flights to get home from New Zealand after we played in Napier but our team of health and fitness managers have done a brilliant job with the team and they have kept them in top shape,” she says.
“We know where we stand against the Vixens and I think despite having the tightest defence in the competition to date we will still have to step up in every third of the court if we want to keep going.
“Match-ups will be critical but our coaching panel knows the Vixens well and we are pretty clear in our minds what we want to do. Fortunately we have been able to rotate all our girls through a lot of court time all season so we also have the luxury of being able to pick and choose throughout games and be confident every player is ready to go without first night nerves or lack of match practice.”
When the sides last met in Adelaide in Round 7 the Vixens defeated the Adelaide Thunderbirds 52-46 and although both finished the minor round 9-4 Adelaide will host the Minor Semi Final as it had a superior goal percentage.
Adelaide Thunderbirds and Melbourne Vixens have identical home and away records for the season, having played seven away matches for five wins and two losses and played six home matches for four wins and two losses.
But it was the Adelaide Thunderbirds, which recorded the best defensive record at the conclusion of the minor round, conceding just 577 goals at an average of 44.3 goals per match.
The team also has the best goal shooting accuracy in the ANZ Championship, converting 652 goals at 86 percent accuracy for the season and shooter Natalie Medhurst is the second most accurate scoring 291 goals at 91.2 percent accuracy behind Magic shooter Irene van Dyk at 91.6 percent accuracy.
Its appearance in the inaugural ANZ Championship finals continues the team’s astonishing track record. The Adelaide Thunderbirds is one of only two teams to have played in all 11 finals series of the previous Australian national competition before it was replaced by the Trans Tasman series.
Netball Australia has now released all tickets and there are still approximately 400 remaining for the match on Monday night.
Tickets are available through Venue*Tix - 8225 8888 or www.venuetix.com.au
2008 FINALS TICKETS PRICING:
Adult – $32.00
Child (3 – 15 yrs) – $21.00
Child (2 yrs & Under) – FREE
Concession – $25.00
Family (2 adults/ 2 children or 1 adult/ 3 children) - $85.00