Finals have come early for the Melbourne Vixens and it starts with a critical match-up against the ladder-leading West Coast Fever at Margaret Court Arena on Sunday.
With three rounds left, the Vixens trail the NSW Swifts in third place in the Australian Conference by three premiership points, with the knowledge that the two sides will meet in the penultimate round.
It means the Vixens must have a do-or-die, elimination final attitude to their remaining fixtures – and some reliance on the Swifts' results – starting with meeting the Fever at home.
The two sides have already met this year, with the then-undefeated Fever re-writing history to win their second-ever match against the defending premiers.
West Coast's danger lies predominantly within their front-court led by Diamonds shooter, Caitlin Bassett who trails only Jhaniele Fowler-Reid in the competition for goals (432) at 81.6 per cent accuracy.
Add to that are the Fever's two link players in captain Natalie Medhurst and Khao Watts, who share 207 assists between them.
The Fever however are coming off just their first loss of the season, having their almost season-long hold of the Challenge Trophy stripped from them by the Queensland Firebirds.
The match is the first two matches at Margaret Court Arena and is potentially the second-last match in Melbourne for the retiring Bianca Chatfield. Add to the motivation of a berth, slim may it be, in the finals, expect the Vixens to stretch the extra yard in front of home fans.
LAST MEETING: Rd 6, 2015: Fever 53 def Vixens 47, Perth