3 June 2010
With just three home and away rounds remaining before the 2010 Finals Series, things are getting serious for the ANZ Championship’s five Australian and five New Zealand teams.
Seven of those teams are still in contention for a place in the final four, including last year’s premiers, the Melbourne Vixens, and runners-up the Adelaide Thunderbirds. They meet once again at Melbourne’s Hisense Arena this Sunday, and will play in front of a sell-out crowd of 9,500. This smashes the competition’s previous home and away record of 6,928, which was set just five weeks ago when the Vixens met the NSW Swifts in Sydney.
However this weekend’s ANZ Championship round is not just about the world’s best netballers. Sunday’s 2009 Grand Final re-match will be preceded by the annual Netball’s Festival of Stars, in which 14 celebrity players will take the court in support of charity partners beyondblue and the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
The teams will be captained by TEN commentators Liz Ellis and Luke Darcy. Keen to avenge her team’s one goal defeat by Darcy in 2009, Ellis’ recruits this year include AFL great Glenn Archer and Winter Olympics aerial gold medalist, Lydia Lassila.
Meanwhile Darcy has been hard at work to ensure he defends his 2009 Netball’s Festival of Stars title, securing multiple Olympic gold medalist and member of the “Oarsome Foursome”, James Tomkins, and the stunning Rebecca Twigley. With 19 years of netball experience under her belt, including a stint with the WA State League, Twigley may well prove the secret weapon for Darcy’s MARS Red beyondblue Team.
The complete celebrity line-ups are as follows:
MARS Red beyondblue: Luke Darcy, Rebecca Twigley, Dave Hughes, Shelley O’Donnell, James Tomkins, Mieke Buchan and Lehmo
Holden Cruze National Breast Cancer Foundation: Liz Ellis, Adam Spencer, Glenn Archer, Adam Swanson, Lydia Lassila, Ryan Moloney, Brigitte Duclos and Natalie Hunter
There are guaranteed to be plenty of laughs and perhaps a touch of sledging, as comedians Dave Hughes, Lehmo and Adam Spencer go head-to-head; Spencer was a stand-out performer in last year’s celebrity match, and believes he has the credentials and experience to give his team the edge.
“Last year, there was one bit when I threw the ball to John Eales and instead of passing it to him on the full I bounced it to avoid a defender, and I really thought I created something new there”, he said.
“But it turns out that this so called ‘bounce pass’ has been a part of netball for about 20 years. I wanted to take out international copyright on this ‘bounce pass’ but it turns out there have been other people who have been doing it for a long time.
“However it hasn’t necessarily been done as well as my bounce pass to John Eales”, said a confident Spencer.
The match will be played over two 15 minute halves, and will be umpired by Queensland Firebird star Natalie Medhurst and former Australian U/21 netballer Wendy Fleming.
The official charities will be hoping for some accurate shooting skills by the celebrity players, as ANZ will be donating $1,000 for the first goal scored in each half to the player’s team charity, and $100 for every other goal scored in the match.
The celebrity match will be followed by a performance from Australian singing sensation Paulini Curuenavuli, before the Melbourne Vixens take on the Adelaide Thunderbirds in a must-win match for the defending premiers.
Doors open at 11.30am this Sunday, with the celebrity match to commence at 12 noon and the ANZ Championship match starting at 2.50pm. Both games will be broadcast on TEN and ONE from 1.30pm.
The 2010 Netball’s Festival of Stars is proudly presented by event sponsors ANZ, Holden and MARS and broadcast partner Network Ten.
photos Janos Schmidt