The Melbourne Vixens’ finals hopes will be on the line when they take on the Central Pulse in Round 14 of the ANZ Championship at TSB Bank Arena, Wellington on Monday night.
The Vixens will be looking to secure a victory over the Pulse to overtake the West Coast Fever to nab third spot on the Australian Conference ladder.
The currently fourth-placed Vixens will know before they step out on court what result they will need to claim a finals berth.
Both teams have had to overcome injury woes in the past week and will come into the game with re-shaped line-ups.
Vixens shooter Karyn Bailey tore the meniscus in her left knee in the team’s Round 13 clash against the Steel, while the Pulse mid-court will have to re-adjust after Elias Scheres suffered a career-ending knee injury in Round 12 and announced her retirement this week.
The Pulse is yet to beat the Vixens in eight previous ANZ Championship meetings, but a fierce contest is expected.
The battle between Vixens Goal Attack Alice Teague-Neeld and Pulse’s Katrina Grant will be one to watch. Grant, a Silver Fern, has the ability to turn over a lot of ball for her team and sits second for League intercepts, only behind Sharni Layton.
It will be tough tussle between the athletic duo and one that may prove pivotal.
Key match-ups also take place in the mid-court and Vixens Wing Defence Kate Moloney will have to work hard to shut down the influence of Pulse Wing Attack Chelsea Locke (nee Pittman).
Locke is an ex-Australian Diamond athlete who was once selected ahead of Madi Robinson for the 2011 World Championships and carries the Pulse’s load in terms of goal assists, and centre pass receives for the season.
Moloney’s ability to shut her down and quell her influence will be crucial in allowing the Vixens to post a strong win.
The two teams come full circle, having played in the very first game of the league back in 2008, and will meet again in the last ever round-robin match of the Trans-Tasman competition. Madi Robinson is the only member of the Vixens current team who played in this first encounter.
Last competitive meeting: Round 1, 2015: Vixens 64 def Pulse 40 (Melbourne).
Broadcast: Live on Fox Sport (AUS) & Netball Live (App)