Firebirds chasing right to host final
NETBALL: The calculators will be out for the clash between the Queensland Firebirds and the West Coast Fever in the final round of the ANZ Championship in Brisbane on Sunday, but the hosts only know three digits - 100% for effort.
If the NSW Swifts lose to the Southern Steel tomorrow and the Queensland outfit beats its West Coast opponents, the reigning champion Firebirds will host the Australian conference final in three weeks.
If the Swifts win, the Firebirds will need to triumph by a large margin to avoid hosting an elimination final - most likely versus the Fever once again next Sunday.
But the Firebirds are not worried about revealing their full hand to the Fever, even if they have to face them again next weekend.
"We don't think about the next week - we just think about what's happening there and then," Firebirds goal defender Clare McMeniman told Australian Regional Media.
"That's the way we approach every week regardless of what the situation will be in the weeks to come. We go on court to put out our best performance on that day."
A big Queensland win over the Fever appears unlikely.
The Firebirds beat the WA side by nine points the last time they clashed, on May 14, but on their day the Fever can match it with anyone, as they proved with their 58-57 win over the Swifts on June 11.
McMeniman, who returned from a calf injury to play a part in her team's 71-47 win over the Magic on Monday night, will need to be at her best.
She and captain Laura Geitz will come up against former Firebirds goal attacker and Australian star Natalie Medhurst, and goal shooter and fellow Diamonds representative Caitlin Bassett.
It is a significant challenge McMeniman is anticipating.
"I always enjoy playing against Nat because she is such a competitor. She's incredibly intelligent in the way she plays her netball," she said.
"It's not always about running as hard as you can with her - you have to be a little bit smarter than that.
"I think collectively as a defensive unit we're going to have to work effectively to shut down their entire attacking end."
That is not to say the Fever outfit won't have its work cut out trying to get past Geitz and McMeniman in the Firebirds' defensive zone.
The Queenslanders have conceded only 604 goals this season - the least of any team.
"We (Geitz and I) have been playing together for a really long time," McMeniman said, "so two weeks away from each other (a knee injury kept Geitz out of Queensland's 66-51 loss to the Steel on June 11, before a bye) was not going to make a huge difference.
"But it was nice to have an opportunity to re-establish that combination and get a game under our belts prior to the Fever, which we know is going to be a real tough match."