Collingwood Magpies Super Netball coach Kristy Keppich-Birrell has called their Silverdome showdown a “must-win” game.
But the rookie mentor has resisted labelling the looming confrontation with the last-ever Trans-Tasman champions a mini-final.
The Magpies are perched awkwardly inside the top four, but rival Queensland Firebirds will challenge in the Sunday week clash for what certainly looks the fourth and final playoff contender.
“I don’t think we’ll prepare much like it’s a mini-final,” Keppich-Birrell said during the Easter weekend off.
“Coming off the break, it’ll be much about all six games being must-win games.
“It’s obviously not the position we wanted to be in, but we are going to try and control what we can control.
“That means when we do play at home in Launceston, it should be a fiery and exciting game because for both teams, it’s all on the line.”
Assuredly with the top three spots already secured, Collingwood sit on a 4-4 win/loss record and are holding a tenuous half-a-game break over the Firebirds.
Keppich-Birrell realises with a game beforehand against frontrunners Giants mounting further pressure on the side that features six capped Australians that the next game will be more of a four-point game.
“It’s probably worth a bit more than two points,” she said. “But we prepare for all the games exactly the same way and we’re still finding out our best preparation, we should be able to put our best 60 minutes out.
“It’s probably not at the point of the season that we want to be finding our way, but we’ll make the best of it.
“Our last game showed some pretty exciting netball so I am hoping that is what you’ll see the following weekend down at Launnie.”
Keppich-Birrell said early expectations on the new glamour club to sweep aside the Super Netball competition was “very unreasonable”.
National coach Lisa Alexander told Fairfax Media that she believed that centre Kim Ravaillion was the Pies’ “only world-class” player, snubbing Madi Robinson, Caitlin Thwaites and Sharni Layton.
“I think it was exciting for the competition to have a team like that moving forward and build the hype around the competition,” Keppich-Birrell said.
“But the lists of the two other new franchises, and their capabilities and their experiences at an international level, they are outstanding too.”
“We went in with high expectations of ourselves around performance and expectations of our performance rather than outcomes, but our performances are not where we want them.”