NSW Swifts are girding themselves for a blockbuster grand final rematch with Queensland Firebirds after ending West Coast Fever’s winning start to the trans-Tasman netball season.
The Swifts’ 63-52 win over the Fever at Perth’s HBF Arena on Sunday ensured that Saturday’s clash with defending champions the Firebirds in Brisbane features the only two unbeaten teams after four rounds.
Delighted with the way his team handled a stiff challenge from the Fever, Swifts coach Rob Wright was reluctant to talk up their chances of toppling the record-setting Firebirds at the same venue where they lost last season’s grand final thriller by just one goal.
“The Firebirds have won 17 games in-a-row now. I’m wanting to know whether they can lose at the moment,” Wright said.
“All we want to try and do is be better than we were last year because we weren’t good enough.”
Wright considered the Fever the biggest test to date for his team who had beaten the Melbourne Vixens, Waikato Magic and Adelaide Thunderbirds at home.
“It was hard to tell how we were going because the first three teams we played had all been hit by injuries,” Rob Wright said.
“I felt all of them were a little under strength so this was a real test to see where we were at…. I’m pleased to be able to get out of here with two points.”
For the much-improved Fever, it was more of the same pain at the hands of the Swifts who had beaten them at home in the last round in 2015 to book a home elimination final against them, which they also won.
But the Fever made the visitors fight hard for it.
The Fever grabbed the half-time lead 29-28 on the back of five straight goals before the Swifts scoring 11 of the next 14 goals and were on top by five heading into the fourth period.
A rare miss by national team shooter Caitlin Bassett early in the fourth quarter led to two quick goals for Swifts and from there they pulled away.
For the Swifts, shooter Caitlin Thwaites nailed 39 from 45 attempts while Susan Pettitt added 24 from 26 and captain Kimberlee Green was outstanding in the centre.
Bassett made 38 from 42 for Fever and became the first Australian player to score 4000 goals in the league. Nat Medhurst added 14 from 17.