Melbourne Vixens are expecting a desperate Queensland Firebirds outfit with their Super Netball season on the line in a double-header at Hisense Arena on Saturday night.
The Vixens and the Firebirds, who won the trans-Tasman title last year, will be followed on court by the Collingwood Magpies and the Sunshine Coast Lightning, in a battle of the sharpshooters in Caitlin Thwaites and Caitlin Bassett.
The Vixens are flying at the top of the ladder and can wrap up a finals’ berth with four rounds to go, while the Firebirds are sitting fifth.
“The Firebirds played well last week even though they didn’t get the win and we want to keep our top spot on the ladder,” Melbourne goal attack Tegan Philip said.
“We’ve acknowledged that Firebirds do need a win if they want to be in the finals so it will be a very important match for them.”
Philip has returned to her best, after she was sidelined in 2016 with a serious knee injury, and is set to reclaim a spot in the Diamonds line-up.
In 2014 she won the grand final player of the match award, as the Vixens claimed their last title, and featured in the Commonwealth Games gold medal team.
“I’m really happy with how things are going at Vixens as I didn’t know the form I was going to be able to come back in,” Philip said.
The 28-year-old has formed a lethal shooting combination with Malawi shooter Mwayi Kumwenda, who shot 41 goals from as many attempts in their big win over the Lightning last week.
The fourth-placed Magpies posted a two-goal win over the Firebirds last round in Launceston and are on a three-game winning streak.
With four rounds remaining, Thwaites (429) and Bassett (428) lead third-placed Sam Wallace from the Swifts by some 60 goals.
Collingwood captain Madi Robinson will be going head to head with her younger sister Kelsey Browne, who plays for the Lightning.