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Firebirds set for Swifts' netball surprise

NZN 30/07/2016 Vince Rugari

The Queensland Firebirds are expecting the unexpected from a revenge-driven NSW Swifts outfit that will be desperate to deny them an historic trans-Tasman three-peat.

The Firebirds host the Swifts in Sunday's grand final at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre - the last one of the trans-Tasman era, before a blockbuster new eight-team Australian competition gets underway next year.

As such, two pieces of eternal history beckon for Roselee Jencke's side if they can back up last year's pulsating one-goal win over the Swifts at the same venue.

No team in the competition's eight-season existence has ever claimed back-to-back titles, nor has any franchise has ever won three grand finals.

Bookmakers have the Firebirds as favourites, and rightfully so - they've never lost a finals game in Brisbane before while NSW is yet to taste victory in the Queensland capital.

But those records are cold comfort for a side that knows the difference between heartbreak and euphoria on the same stage last year was just 14 frantic seconds.

That's why Firebirds skipper Laura Geitz is alert for a possible tactical ambush from the Swifts and their coach, Rob Wright, who she believes will have been working overtime to come up with a formula that will atone for last year's finish.

"He's a smart man, he's done his research on us," Geitz said.

"We need to be prepared for absolutely anything from the Swifts.

"They've showed a lot of different tactical combinations they can put out there, they were successful with the moving goal circle against us down in Sydney.

"You can see from their other games Rob's been playing around with their starting seven.

"I couldn't tell you who their starting seven is at the moment so I think that's a sign for us to be prepared for absolutely anything they throw out there."

The Swifts, meanwhile, are anticipating a "tenfold" increase in pressure from Queensland compared to the Magic, who they defeated in their grand final qualifier on Monday night.

"They are the best defensive unit in the league. That's what we've got to be prepared for," NSW goal keeper Sharni Layton told AAP.


Queensland Firebirds vs NSW Swifts

12.10pm AEST, Sunday July 31, Brisbane Entertainment Centre

Head to head: Played 21, Firebirds 14, Swifts 6, drawn 1

This year: Played 3, Firebirds 2, Swifts 1

Last time: Firebirds 63 def Swifts 52, Australian Conference Final, July 18


- If the Firebirds win, they will become the only team in the history of trans-Tasman netball to win three titles

- They will also become the first team to secure back-to-back trans-Tasman titles

- Queensland's Caitlyn Nevins could become the first player to win three grand finals in a row (2014 Vixens, 2015 Firebirds, 2016 Firebirds)

- Firebirds shooter Romelda Aiken is five goals away from becoming the first player to shoot 5000 goals

- NSW Swifts shooter Caitlin Thwaites needs three goals to equal her best individual season of 507 goals (2015)

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