Barring an absolute disaster tonight, the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic have once again achieved a spot in the trans-Tasman netball league playoffs.
In a sensational turnaround from their four losses to open the ANZ Championship season, the Magic have all but secured their place in the finals, before they take to the court in their final regular season match tonight, against the Queensland Firebirds in Hamilton.
The weekend's results, including the Northern Mystics' thrilling 50-49 win over the New South Wales Swifts in Auckland last night, mean the top two spots have been decided.
The Mystics secured second and will travel to Rod Laver Arena to face the Melbourne Vixens next Sunday in the 1 v 2 major semifinal, with the winner going on to host the grand final and the loser playing at home in the preliminary final.
The Magic will be assured a spot in the playoffs as long as they don't get walloped by around 25 goals.
Should the Magic win, or lose by a reasonable margin, they will play the Adelaide Thunderbirds in the sudden death 3 v 4 minor semifinal.
If the Magic win, they will host the match at Claudelands Arena, while if they lose, and not by a massive margin, they will have to make the trip to Adelaide.
The Magic go into tonight on the back of eight consecutive wins and won't want to drop that momentum going into the playoffs.
Tonight's visitors are adept at making the trip and doing well across the Tasman, boasting a great record in New Zealand, having won eight of 11 games, including their last seven.
And of all teams in the competition, the Firebirds are the Magic's most poisonous opponents.
Not that Magic coach Noeline Taurua feels that the poor record is a concern.
"I think what's happened in the past has sort of remained in the past, but the good thing is we've got a good feel of them when they've been on top of us, so there's a positive from my perspective," she said.
Taurua said her defenders would be ready for a big job against Firebirds shooters Romelda Aiken and Natalie Medhurst, who she said were quite complementary to one another.
And Taurua noted their other main strength lay in the defensive circle, with the instrumental Laura Geitz able to force plenty of turnovers.
For all that, Taurua doesn't see an edge in her side's midcourt, and just wants them to play "quite clinical netball" through the middle, being able to remain composed, disciplined and re-set when their shooters weren't ready.
The Magic's intensity at training during the week hasn't lifted, as it had consistently been at a high level, and they needed to manage their energies.
Additional seating has been brought in and the game was sold out by yesterday, with about 4000 set to be on hand to urge the Magic to home advantage for the first week of the playoffs.
What: ANZ Championship, Rd 14. Who: Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic v Queensland Firebirds. Where: Claudelands Arena, Hamilton. When: 7.40 tonight. TAB Odds: Magic $1.30, Firebirds $3.25. Standings: Melbourne Vixens 20 points 113.36 goal% Northern Mystics 20 105.37 Adelaide Thunderbirds 18 113.75 Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic 16 117.24 New South Wales Swifts 16 97.81 Queensland Firebirds 14 109.54
- © Fairfax NZ News