The Queensland Firebirds season is over, with a 67-59 loss to the West Coast Fever putting an end to their 2010 Finals Series hopes.
Needing to win in Perth yesterday to scrape into the top four, the Firebirds trailed at every quarter never looking like a side deserving of a top-four finish.
It has been a largely disappointing season for the young Fever team but they rose to the occasion in their final match for the 2010 season.
Playing with greater intent, the Fever outplayed the visitors, who lacked the desperation to make the Finals for the first time.
The Fever sprung a slight surprise by selecting usual defender Jo Curran at centre in an effort to help the home team slow the Firebirds attacking prowess and, in particular, the quick through ball to shooting kingpin Romelda Aiken.
The Firebirds presented with a predictable line-up which included rookie Laura Scherian coming in at wing attack after the loss to injury of Sarah Wall.
With so much resting on the outcome for the visitors, it was the Fever who made the better start leading the Firebirds by four at quarter time.
There was a more confident and settled showing from the Firebirds in the second quarter as the visitors gradually built into the match.
More movement and structure from centre Lauren Nourse and Medhurst resulted in more quality ball for Aiken, helping the Firebirds to 32-30 goal at half-time.
Half-time changes for the home team had a tiring Curran heading to the bench, Madison Browne taking up the centre’s bib and Sarah Ebbott coming on at wing attack.
Steady and accurate on attack, the Fever played percentage netball with Bassett providing the accurate finishing as the home team swept into the last break leading 49-45.
All the energy and intensity was with the Fever in the final term as they stretched out to an eight-goal margin to which the Firebirds had no answer.
Flat and downcast, the Firebirds tried hard to muster some urgency but with the sniff of victory the Fever dictated the pace and the final outcome.
Across the Tasman on Saturday the Thunderbirds suffered a shock, 53-44, loss at the hands of the out of form Waikato/ Bay of Plenty Magic.
With the Thunderbirds having already secured second spot the match was about consolidating form for their Semi-Final 1 cxlash with the NSW Swifts in Sydney next Sunday.
However it was the WBOP Magic, fighting for a spot in the Finals, which dominated the match, leading at every change.
The nine-goal win guarantees WBOP Magic a spot in the final four for the third consecutive season.
They will meet fellow New Zealanders Southern Steel in Semi-Final 2 next Monday night.
Tonight, the NSW Swifts will look to finish the season undefeated taking on the Steel in Sydney.
However the in-form Steel side have been building momentum in the last month with the visitors needing the victory to push them into third place giving them the right to host their Semi-Final clash against the WBOP Magic.
Central Pulse will also host the Melbourne Vixens tonight.
With both teams out of the finals race the match will be about finishing the season on a high and restoring some pride after both teams have experienced disappointing 2010 seasons.
In the other all-New Zealand clash of the weekend the Northern Mystics defeated the Canterbury Tactix, 58-47.
Waikato / Bay of Plenty Magic (53) Adelaide Thunderbirds (44)
Magic shooting statistics
Irene van Dyk 38/44 (86%)
Jodi Brown 15/16(94%)
Thunderbirds shooting statistics
Carla Borrego 26/31 (84%)
Kate Beveridge 11/17 (65%)
Erin Bell 7/9 (78%)
West Coast Fever (67) Queensland Firebirds (59)
Fever shooting statistics
Caitlin Bassett 44/50 (88%)
Leah Shoard 23/27 (85%)
Firebirds shooting statistics
Romelda Aiken 36/43 (84%)
Natalie Medhurst 23/27 (85%)
LG Mystics (58) Mercury Energy Tactix (47)
Mystics shooting statistics
Cathrine Latu 36/41 (87%)
Maria Tutaia 22/27(81%)
Tactix shooting statistics
Anna Thompson 23/29 (79%)
Ellen Halpenny 24/31 (77%)
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