The Courier-Mail

ALL ABOARD NETTY BANDWAGON

- DAMIEN STANNARD FIREBIRDS

WINNING no longer satisfies the Queensland Firebirds.

The ANZ Championsh­ip favourites want to harass and confuse their opponents with relentless defence as they head into this weekend’s Australian Conference final powered by a 10-game winning streak.

How else could you explain yesterday’s 66-50 disposal of Southern Steel in a dead rubber that had no bearing on the trans-Tasman league finals?

Defenders Laura Geitz, Gabi Simpson and player-ofthe-match Clare McMeniman squeezed the life out of the Steel in the warm-up for Sunday’s clash against either West Coast Fever or NSW Swifts at the Brisbane Entertainm­ent Centre.

The Firebirds boast an average winning margin of 16 goals from their past four outings, and still the players were dissatisfi­ed they could not achieve their target of keeping the Invercargi­ll-based Steel under 50 goals for the match.

“That’s the driving force behind our performanc­e, trying to put teams away,” Firebirds captain Geitz said.

“In previous years we would have been beside ourselves with a 16-goal win.

“This team wants to see how good we could be. We’re trying to make it so hard for our opposition to convert any ball. That’s what we pride ourselves on.”

In another fine performanc­e, goal shooter Romelda Aiken potted 48 goals at 81 per cent accuracy.

However, the scene for victory was set by their length-ofcourt defence.

Centre Kim Ravaillion prides herself on the pressure she applies through the midcourt and even goal attack Gretel Tippett was in on the defensive wall.

Coach Roselee Jencke wanted to see her defenders play like lions, charging at their prey rather than wait for them to take the initiative.

“I told them to go and win the ball. Put the extra step on to it and have a crack,” Jencke said.

“You can’t just sit back. You need to win the ball on the transverse line.”

The 2011 champions lost just once – in the opening round – and will have the advantage of staying at home throughout the trans-Tasman competitio­n finals.

Steel centre Shannon Francois waged a four-quarter battle with Australian young centre Ravaillion which is set to continue at the World Cup in August. LAURA Geitz’s rallying call to seize the opportunit­y provided by this Sunday’s move to Boondall was aimed at her teammates and a state famous for backing its sporting sons and daughters.

Borrowing a line from Socceroos and former Brisbane Roar coach Ange Postecoglo­u who in 2011 said “there’s plenty of room on our bandwagon”, Geitz urged Queensland­ers to “jump on-board” the Firebirds when they take the ANZ Championsh­ip Australian Conference final to the Brisbane Entertainm­ent Centre.

Momentaril­y freed from Brisbane Convention Centre’s capacity of 3200, the Firebirds are confident they have the magnetism to attract at least 7000 to Boondall.

“We’ve been on about having our own venue, and how big netty is in Queensland, so this is a perfect opportunit­y to prove just how big it is,” Geitz said.

 ??  ?? NO MERCY: Romelda Aiken has continued her hot form under the hoop. Picture: Peter Wallis
NO MERCY: Romelda Aiken has continued her hot form under the hoop. Picture: Peter Wallis

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