Three weeks is a long time in sport, none more so than in the ANZ Championship, with the little fancied Adelaide Thunderbirds and Melbourne Vixens contesting a top of the table clash at the Netball SA Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Neither Thunderbirds nor the Vixens featured heavily in premiership talk prior to the season but fast forward three weeks and the pair remain undefeated after the opening two rounds of the ANZ Championship.
Both sides have played outstanding team netball in their first two games, with impressive performances across the court and both experienced and inexperienced played contributing to their success thus far.
While the Thunderbirds have dominated the mid-court with co-captain Natalie von Bertouch in sparkling form, it’s been the performances at either end of the court which have stood out this season.
New recruit Rebecca Bulley has been outstanding alongside Diamonds team mate Sharni Layton at the defensive end of the court while up the other end, the partnership between Carla Borrego and Erin Bell continues to grow from strength to strength.
The Thunderbirds lead the league in scoring with 111 goals, an average of over 55 goals per game after the opening two rounds, with Borrego at the top of the ANZ Championship shooting statistics with 73 goals from 83 attempts at 88 per cent.
Incredibly, no Vixen features in the league’s top ten for shooters however they’ve showed no early signs of missing pregnant captain Sharelle McMahon with victories over the Queensland Firebirds and West Coast Fever in the opening two weeks.
Rising star Tegan Caldwell has taken some impressive steps in her mission to fill the very large vacant shoes left by McMahon at goal attack, leading her side in scoring with 32 goals from 41 attempts, 16th in the league, two spots ahead of team mate Kate Beveridge (29/37).
The Vixens may not lead the league in scoring however they boast the ANZ Championship’s best defensive record, conceding just 83 goals, with international quality in Geva Mentor, Bianca Chatfield and Julie Corletto proving to be a match winning trio.
The winless defending championship, Queensland Firebirds, are eyeing off their first victory of the season against the Central Pulse on Sunday.
The Firebirds have never lost to the Pulse in four previous meetings since the league’s inception in 2008 but it won’t be easy against the much improved Pulse this season, who defeated the Southern Steel last weekend.
The West Coast Fever make their first trip across the Tasman this season to take on grand finalists Northern Mystics on Monday night and will be looking to get back on track after a loss to the Vixens last weekend.
The other Monday night fixture sees the NSW Swifts searching for their first victory of the 2012 ANZ Championship season after losses to the Thunderbirds and Tactix when they host the WBOP Magic at the Sydney Olympic Park Sports Centre.
Mission Queensland Firebirds vs Haier Central Pulse
Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre, Sunday 15 April 12.10pm
TV: Channel Ten LIVE
Telstra: BigPond Sport - Sunday 7.00pm
Adelaide Thunderbirds vs Melbourne Vixens
Netball SA Stadium Adelaide, Sunday 15 April 1.50pm
TV: Channel Ten LIVE
Telstra: BigPond Sport - Sunday 5.00pm
Canterbury Easiyo Tactix vs Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel
CBS Arena Canterbury, Sunday 15 April 7.20pm
TV: ONE 10.30pm
Telstra: BigPond Sport - Tuesday 7.00pm
LG Northern Mystics vs West Coast Fever
The Trusts Stadium Arena, Henderson, Monday 16 April 7.40pm
TV: ONE 12.30am (Tuesday)
Telstra: BigPond Sport - Monday 7.00pm
NSW Swifts vs First Windows WBOP Magic
Sydney Olympic Park Sports Centre, Monday 16 April 7.40pm
TV: Channel TEN 11.30pm
Telstra: BigPond Sport - Wednesday 7.00pm
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