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Firebirds claim top spot on netball ladde

NZN 3/07/2016 Matt Harris

The Queensland Firebirds have placed themselves in the box seat to retain their Trans-Tasman netball title after finishing top of the Australian conference ladder with a 63-52 win over the West Coast Fever.

After the NSW Swifts drew with Southern Steel on Saturday, the 11-goal victory ensured the Firebirds overtook the Swifts on top of the Australian Conference ladder.

West Coast needed a win to ensure they snuck into the finals, but now face a nervous wait as third-placed rivals Melbourne Vixens are even with them on points and are favourites to win their Monday-night clash against the struggling Central Pulse.

The Firebirds now have a free pass through to week two of the finals where they'll host the Australian conference final with the winner of that match guaranteed home-advantage for the decider.

Queensland defeated West Coast by nine goals earlier in the season.

But it was the Fever who started best on Sunday and led early until the Firebirds claimed the lead inside the final minute of the opening term.

Romelda Aiken made her presence felt with 13 first-quarter goals and finished the match with 49 baskets to take her past 570 for the season, while Gretel Tippett celebrated her 23rd birthday with 14 goals and a game-high 42 feeds.

The defending champions exerted their dominance in the second quarter and prised open up a nine-point half-time lead in front of a passionate Brisbane crowd.

The Fever edged the Firebirds by one goal during a high-scoring third quarter with Caitlin Bassett sinking 15 of her 39 goals for the match.

However, they were unable to make any further impact on the scoreboard during the final term, allowing the Firebirds to secure their 13th win of the season.

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