Adelaide Thunderbirds coach Jane Woodlands may be headed for the Olympic Games in Beijing next month – as a member of the high jump team.
When the final whistle blew in last week’s spectacular comeback win against the Melbourne Vixens in the minor semi final, Woodlands easily put a metre between the ETSA Park pine and her shoes as she leapt skyward with delight.
But as happy as she has been with her charges, Woodlands also admits her “cunning plan” to trail, get in front, fall behind and then come back in the fourth quarter will have to be changed for this week’s preliminary final against Waikato BOP Magic.
She says this weekend’s game will be a clash against a side that is virtually an all Silver Ferns outfit – a club team playing a national team.
“But clearly they can be defeated and my new plan is to take the stealth approach and slip under their radar,” Woodlands says.
“We have only played them once – that was in the first round of the season – and the side we are starting at this end of the season is radically different to the one they met then,” Woodlands says.
“Then we only lost by four goals and we know what they will be bringing to the game because they have hardly changed their starting seven, except when forced to by injury, while we have been able to rotate our whole side” she says.
“And all the work we have done on fitness, and the science we bring to that part of our game, shows we really are peaking at the right time so we are very confident about this week – and the week after that.”
Woodlands says captain Natalie von Bertouch played a blinder last week, and the defence was able to turn the screws when it really counted.
But she is looking for a little extra out of her hotshots in the goal circle, and says she has been working with Australian goalie Natalie Medhurst this week to help her really attack the goal and take more shots.
The Thunderbirds recorded the best defensive record in the ANZ Championship after the minor round. They conceded just 577 goals at an average of 44.3 per match. The Magic had the second best defensive record after the rounds conceding 599 goals.
In last week’s heartbreaker against the NSW Swifts, the Magic lost 56-57.
The Adelaide Thunderbirds and Magic are the most accurate teams in the ANZ Championship. The Thunderbirds are ranked number one with a season return of 85.9 percent while the Magic are just behind with 85.8 percent accuracy.
Magic shooter Irene van Dyk recorded her third perfect shooting performance of the ANZ Championship when she shot 29 goals at 100 percent against the Swifts in the Major Semi Final.
The Magic and Thunderbirds both won two premierships in their former national league competitions and Magic coach Noeline Taurua led her team to both of those while Thunderbirds coach Jane Woodlands was the Thunderbirds goal shooting coach in their premiership seasons.
There is absolutely nothing between these champion sides but this weekend one will be packing up and taking a break before pre-season for next year and the other will be at the drawing board working out how to overcome the NSW Swifts.