The Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic are hoping it’s a case of third time lucky when they take to the court in the 2012 ANZ Championship Grand Final against the Melbourne Vixens at Hisense Arena on Sunday.
The Magic head into this year’s decider as easily the most experienced Finals Series team however it’s the heart break and disappointment of two previous Grand Final defeats that will provide the motivation against the Vixens.
As the only team to have contested every Finals Series since the inception of the trans-Tasman’sin 2008, the Magic’s consistency hasn’t translated into post-season success, with only three victories from ten finals games.
Losses to the NSW Swifts 65-56 in the inaugural decider and Adelaide Thunderbirds 52-42 in the 2010 ANZ Championship Grand Final sees the Magic and New Zealand yet to put a hand on the trophy.
"I think history speaks for itself. Usually the team that has that week off, they're fresher, they're fighting and they want it more," Magic captain Laura Langman told Fairfax NZ.
"I think in terms of us, we've been in this situation so many times - don't remind me - we've got to be really smart about what we do and we've got to still have that passion there when we get to Melbourne - so game on."
The two sides have previously met once in the post-season when the Vixens defeated the Magic58-43 in the Major Semi-Final in what would be a straight sets exit from the Finals Series for the Magic after going down 51-37 in the Preliminary Final to the Thunderbirds.
This year’s only fixture between the teams resulted in arguably one of the most exciting and memorable fixtures as the Vixens defeated the Magic by one goal despite trailing at every stoppage before Tegan Caldwell netted with 15 seconds remaining to win 40-39.
While the Magic are hoping to secure New Zealand’s first ANZ Championship title, the Vixens are hoping to create history of their own by becoming the first team in the league’s history to win multiple titles.
The Vixens hold the edge over the Magic in the head to head history with Melbourne claiming four of the six games with the Magic yet to win a game away from home against the Vixens at either Hisense Arena or the State Netball & Hockey Centre.
Along with the perfect record at home against the Magic, Vixens captain Bianca Chatfield told the Australian Associated Press (AAP) that her side would have the advantage going into Sunday’s final after having the Preliminary Final weekend off.
"We had a hard practice match on Friday night but we've now got the week off to recover and prepare for the game so I think it's a massive advantage for us," Chatfield said.
"It's a six-day turnaround for them as well as the travel."
Slow starts have been an Achilles heel for the Vixens who have quickly gained a reputation as comeback queens this season after losing seven first quarters so far this season.
Chatfield admitted though she would like to avoid another slow start but the confidence in the team’s ability to come from behind is reassuring if the game doesn’t go to plan in the early stages.
''We'd love an awesome start and we're definitely going to try hard for that, but we know that we have the power to come back,'' she said.
''We don't want to rely on that, but we know we've got it.''
The Melbourne Vixens host the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic in 2012 ANZ Championship Grand Final at Hisense Arena on Sunday 22 July.
For more information visit www.anz-championship.com
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