The Melbourne Vixens say they’re ready for the physicality of the Queensland Firebirds when the teams meet in the trans-Tasman netball grand final.
The Melbourne Vixens are preparing for an hour of pain to match the physicality of the Queensland Firebirds in Sunday’s ANZ Championship netball grand final.
The Firebirds booked their place in the decider at Melbourne’s Hisense Arena with a rugged 54-50 win over New Zealand’s Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic.
The minor premier Vixens say they will have to be at their defensive best against the Firebirds, who showed they were prepared to spill some blood to get the win with goal defence Clare McMeniman a casualty against the Magic.
“It’s going to be a slog, no two ways about it,” said veteran Australian goaler Catherine Cox, who is retiring after the match.
“They are a very physical side and they’re not about to give up at any stage so it’s 60 minutes of solid work.
“No doubt people will be sore and extremely tired at the end of the game but if we win it I don’t think anyone’s going to mind.”
The two teams know each other backwards, having played three times this season.
Vixens coach Simone McKinnis and Firebirds mentor Roselee Jencke played together way back in club netball before both going on to represent Australia.
They were in the trenches together in the goal circle before McKinnis moved to wing defence.
Their defensive talent has been transferred into their respective teams, as the top two sides in the competition in points conceded.
The Vixens, led by skipper Bianca Chatfield, did well in their five-point major semi-final win to keep a lid on Firebirds’ scoring weapon Romelda Aiken.
The Jamaican still managed a game-high 35 goals but was made to work for it.
McKinnis said it wasn’t just the defenders who had to be on their game but her team needed to apply pressure right up the court to try and cut off the supply to Aiken.
“We’ve got the game for it,” said McKinnis.
“But it takes the full 60 minutes of working hard at that game and any slackening off, they’ll make you pay.
“It’s going to take a lot of hard work and guts from everybody.”
The Vixens won the trans-Tasman title in 2009, with only Chatfield remaining from that line-up, and were grand final losers in 2012, while the Firebirds fell at the final hurdle last season.