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2014 finals series to begin

The ANZ Championship finals series begins this weekend, with the competition’s best four teams out to make it to the grand final.

The Melbourne Vixens, Queensland Firebirds, NSW Swifts and Waikato/ Bay of Plenty Magic are the four teams taking part in the semi finals this Sunday and Monday.

The order of the top four was not decided until the final round of the regular season, with the Firebirds and the Magic playing each other in the second last game. The Swifts and the Vixens both suffered final round losses to the Northern Mystics and Southern Steel respectively.

The ladder-topping minor premiers, the Melbourne Vixens, will host the Queensland Firebirds in the major semi final on Monday night, creating a rematch of last year’s preliminary final, whilst the NSW Swifts will host the only New Zealand team in the competition to make the finals, the Waikato/ Bay of Plenty Magic in the minor semi final on Sunday.

The major semi final will see the Vixens host the Firebirds in Melbourne on Monday night, and will be the third time the two teams meet this year, currently sitting at a win each.

The Firebirds were victorious in last year’s preliminary final against the Vixens, in which the Firebirds won by just two goals in a thriller.

The Firebirds, who perform well in the finals, have a winning record of four out of their five finals matches, in contrast to the Vixens, whose seven finals matches have resulted in three wins.

My game prediction: The Melbourne Vixens by one goal in a thriller. The Vixens have been the team to beat all season and will have learnt from their previous mistakes in the last two finals series.

The minor semi final will be played between the 2008 grand finalists, the Swifts and the Magic, in Sydney.

Earlier this season the Swifts were victorious over the Magic, winning by 12 goals in round 13.

The two teams are not strangers in the finals, playing a total of three finals against each other, in which the Swifts have won two and the Magic one.

My game prediction: The Swifts by five goals in a very defensive match. Both teams boast international defensive lines, with New Zealand Silver Ferns’ Leana de Bruin and Casey Kopua for the Magic, and Australian Diamond Sharni Layton and England’s Sonia Mkoloma for the Swifts. There will be lots of defensive stops and a low scoring game.

Each team in the finals has previously won a premiership, the Swifts in 2008, the Vixens in 2009, the Firebirds in 2011 and the Magic in 2012. The Adelaide Thunderbirds are currently the only team to have claimed two premierships, in 2010 and 2013.

The winner of the major semi final will host the grand final in two weeks, whilst the loser will face the winner of the minor semi final in the preliminary final next week.

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