Thunderbirds, Magic to go down to the wire
Friday, July 17, 2009
By Netball Australia
The Adelaide Thunderbirds will be out to create history on Sunday evening and claim their first ANZ Championship Grand Final appearance with a win over the Colourplus Magic.
The Thunderbirds will look to continue their impressive form, however they face a Magic side on the rebound after two consecutive losses and a fired-up home crowd.
For the two sides the final is a case of déjà vu with Magic and Thunderbirds battling last year’s Preliminary Final in New Zealand.
Magic won that clash 51-49, but failed at the last step with a Grand Final loss to the NSW Swifts.
Going into this week’s do-or-die clash, Magic are coming off three games in Australia, two of them 19-goal losses against the Melbourne Vixens and the Thunderbirds in Round 14.
With two injuries in their camp and a pregnancy, the New Zealanders usual starting seven has been shaken to its core with last year’s Grand Finalist having to introduce new combinations in their semi-final loss to the Vixens.
The Thunderbirds on the other hand are flying high; coming off convincing wins against the two top New Zealand teams and with a squad full of depth, the South Australians will take confidence into the match in Hamilton.
While recent form all points in the direction of a Thunderbirds victory the Silver Fern-stacked Magic side cannot be discounted.
The Magic have not been defeated at home all year which includes an impressive nine goal win against the Vixens in Round 10.
The Magic boast world-class defender Casey Williams at one end and the most accurate shooter in the league, Irene van Dyk down the other.
On paper, Magic line-up as one of the most experienced and accomplished teams in the competition.
However they face an equally experienced Thunderbirds side that sports seven players with Test match experience.
In the centre, Thunderbirds captain Natalie von Bertouch will battle Laura Langman.
Both national representatives have been in career best form and their battle will be a major factor in the game’s result.
The Thunderbirds defensive combination of Mo’onia Gerard and English import Geva Mentor will have to be up to their best to shut down the consistent shooting duo of van Dyk and Maria Tutaia.
Down the other end Williams is a certain starter for the Magic however the other defender bib could be filled by either Joline Henry or Jodi Tod after starting keeper Leana de Bruin was ruled out of contention due to pregnancy.
Whoever coach Noeline Taurua selects, will face Thunderbirds shooters Kate Beveridge and Natalie Medhurst, who were impressive last week outplaying the physical Steel defence.
Magic struggled to fill the wing attack position against the Vixens, with the regular starting wing attack France Solia out with a calf injury.
They will need a good performance from this position as Thunderbirds wing defence Jo Sutton has the ability to shut down space and feeds into the circle.
Catch all the drama of this sudden death final on ONE at 5pm (AEST).
For more information on the ANZ Championship Finals Series click here.