Magic to take on Firebirds

Romelda Aiken will need to be on target for the Queensland Firebirds in their major semi-final tonight.
Romelda Aiken will need to be on target for the Queensland Firebirds in their major semi-final tonight.

THE unbeaten Queensland Firebirds are red-hot favourites heading into tonight’s clash with the Waikato Bay Magic at the Gold Coast Convention Centre, but the Magic bring with them a wealth of finals experience and are ready to spring an upset.

The Firebirds take 13 consecutive wins with them into the ANZ Championship major semi final, and haven’t lost to their opponents for about three years.

But in a strange anomaly, it is the Firebirds first finals appearance, while the Magic enter their fourth-consecutive final, and third major semi-final.

With no grand final in the history of the championship hosted in New Zealand, the Magic will be hungry to secure a win.

Firebirds Coach Roselee Jencke said her team was prepared as well as it could be for the finals series.

“All season we have been taking one game at a time and nothing will change moving into the finals series,” she said.

“Player-for-player the teams are well matched, but I have every bit of confidence in our team to deliver.”

The Magic have an impressive line-up, with a number of Silver Ferns in their numbers, but so do the Firebirds, with many Diamonds and a Jamaican swelling their ranks.

Jencke said throughout the history of the ANZ Championship, the Magic have only defeated the Firebirds once, in 2008.

“All our games have been very tight, usually with the end result coming down to just one goal,” Jencke said.

“But in our last match-up in round eight, the margin was four.”

Jencke said it will be tight, but the Firebirds had the bonus of a strong Queensland crowd to cheer them onto victory.

“Our defenders will have to work hard against the Magic shooters, particularly Irene van Dyk and Julianna Naoupu,” she said.

“And Laura Langman is certainly the player to watch in the centre court.

“That said, the Firebirds have proven themselves time and time again throughout the season that they have what it takes to deliver.”

The Firebirds set up camp on the Gold Coast yesterday in preparation for tonight’s crucial clash.

Doors open at 6pm with centre pass at 7.40pm.

The losing team will get the opportunity to redeem themselves in the preliminary final next weekend.

Topics:  firebirds magic queensland tweed

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