ANZ Championship Final: Anita Navin analyses the key players

Last Updated: 21/06/14 11:28am

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Vixens v Firebirds: who will win the ANZ Championship crown?

Vixens v Firebirds: who will win the ANZ Championship crown?

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It is what the Diamonds dreamed of! This weekend it's the all-Australian ANZ netball final.

For coach Lisa Alexander it offers an opportunity to see the majority of her squad go head-to-head for this most wanted title.

The contest is not for the feint-hearted and Alexander will be looking closely at members of her Glasgow-bound green and gold army in what will be a ferocious and fast paced final.

Alarms at the ready for anyone in Britain. For England fans waking in the early hours is simply a must in order to see the awesome Geva Mentor begin her epic encounter with Romelda Aiken. There are some squad members who are powerful in purple and who have defied the odds and made a comeback to the top flight ANZ after a break. Vice-Captain Clare McMeniman is the one who left the game two years ago and is now ready to claim this title alongside captain Laura Geitz.  

So let’s take a look at the stars, and in particular six athletes who could make the difference and bring home the trophy. Will it go north or south of that coveted Aussie coastline!

Star guide: looking at the purple and powerful Firebirds I see three players making a difference


First up for the Firebirds is Laura Geitz the GD/GK is a tough and tight one-on-one defender who will work to capacity to wear down any shooter. She is relentless in her ability. Her uniqueness is that she can capture those moments of anxiety expressed in a shooters movement and take herself to another level to psyche them out of the game. A born leader with the dogged determination to thrive under intense pressure.

Romelda Aiken: The Jamaican-born hooter has the physical height to adjust to the net on the post if she so desires and now has the psychological strength to match. She's a pivotal player who sees Queensland as home. That said, she has integrated herself into the squad over several years and is at the top of her game. She's also rarely phased and is incredibly solid in her ability to fend off the tight GK up against her. She will hold with intelligence; adjusting her body angle to protect the pocket of space behind her. What impresses me now is that she is aware of the other defender potentially trying to creep behind to steal the ball. No, not anymore it is clear Romelda has that roaming defender covered. Her mobility allows her to move more freely now so her strategies are now into their second chapter.

Kimberley Ravaillion: This C/WA is an immensely talented youngster who was a Diamond before she made her ANZ debut - work that one out! She's young in years but with a netball mind and body that seems to have captured all the components and knowledge needed to outwit, out run, out jump and out class even the world class mid courter. Kim delivers a fast ball with precision and has the capacity to place a team mate in space they themselves, never thought possible. Her ability to free herself with this inherent intensity is great to see in all phases of the centre pass.Getting to the circle edge is a given, and in manoevering she has also sighted the pass so blink and you miss that the Ravaillion-surge to her prime position of goal bound is frequent.


Now to the feisty Vixens who, in their nature, will not want to let the Queens be crowned!

Geva Mentor, the England International GK/GD, has been a stalwart at the back for Vixens. She has attached herself well to gold in winning the golden bib on several occasions and now seeks the gold medal. Geva is instinctive and manipulates a shooter well with her fast feet and proactive approach off the ball to position in a timely manner as the ball approaches. Geva is subtle in her change of body angles and is able to transition from a tight one-on-one defence, to a zone of the circle. Her communication is effective and she has to take credit for several intercepts her team mates obtain around the circle edge. Geva oozes a sense of calmness through the court but retains that ability to threaten and challenge any tactical ploy. 

GA/GS Tegan Caldwell has had to be patient at the Vixens; waiting for her court time having emulated and followed in the footsteps of her now retired role model Sharelle McMahon. She might be scared of small spaces in her Vixens profile report but never would we believe that as she carves up the wall of defence from all opponents in that shooting circle. She has found her form this season and offers a range of shooter craft. Intelligence is key and Caldwell will use a roll or the out-and-in play with her C or WA to outwit. She quietly dominates and her work off the ball is impressive. Calmness under pressure is the norm for Caldwell.

Madi Robinson is an experienced mid-courter who is a power house and will defy the odds and come out with the ball when you thought it least possible. A fighter by game play, whilst at the same time a thoughtful and talented team leader who has guided the development of the young Vixen midcourters named Watson and Moloney - this young duo owe much of their success to this Diamond. She might be nicknamed Mad, but you will never see her that way and she will never lose her composure under the threat of the fierce. She sees space and executes that double-play second to none, retreats to deceive a defender and in a split second has gained possession; often with a double defence left speechless.

It might be winter down under but this will not be a chilled encounter - one that is feisty and full of fire!

Score predictions please and don't forget to set the alarm! @netballpundit

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