All smiles: NSW Swifts players have a bit of fun during a press call for their game against Melbourne Vixens. Photo: Dallas Kilponen NSW Swifts players and coach Rob Wright ready for their game against Melbourne Vixens. Photo: Dallas Kilponen
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All smiles: NSW Swifts players have a bit of fun during a press call for their game against Melbourne Vixens. Photo: Dallas Kilponen

NSW Swifts players and coach Rob Wright ready for their game against Melbourne Vixens. Photo: Dallas Kilponen

All smiles: NSW Swifts players have a bit of fun during a press call for their game against Melbourne Vixens. Photo: Dallas Kilponen

NSW Swifts players and coach Rob Wright ready for their game against Melbourne Vixens. Photo: Dallas Kilponen

All smiles: NSW Swifts players have a bit of fun during a press call for their game against Melbourne Vixens. Photo: Dallas Kilponen

NSW Swifts players and coach Rob Wright ready for their game against Melbourne Vixens. Photo: Dallas Kilponen

Liz Ellis: Swifts and Vixens in a battle for survival

NSW Swifts Coach Rob Wright is reluctant to admit it, but English netball hall-of-famer Jade Clarke says her side will be in do-or-die mode when they take on the Melbourne Vixens at Allphones Arena on Sunday afternoon.

Sitting fourth in the Australian conference, the Swifts are one point below their Melbourne rivals. They are desperate to orchestrate a string of wins and now is an opportune time given they have three home games on the trot.

In doing so, the Swifts will be attempting to break the record for the largest crowd at an ANZ Championship regular season game – which stands at 10,118 when they played the Adelaide Thunderbirds in round 14 last year.

Despite having played in front large crowds around the world for over a decade, Clarke, who has played 115 Tests for England, said she could only recall playing in front of a crowd that size against New Zealand in England in 2003.

“To get that in an international game is amazing, but for a club game it’s just fantastic,” Clarke said. “It’s been a fair few years since I would have played in front of that many, I’m really excited. You just can’t even hear yourself think and it’s like having an extra player, so to be in there is going be really special.”

Much has been made of the Swifts’ three draws this season, which might prove a deciding factor when the finals come around in five games time.  It’s something Clarke says her team have not been dwelling on, but are now under no illusions that they need to win almost every game from now on to be in the mix in May.

“Yep [it is do-or-die] but that makes it even more exciting and this is why you play,” Clarke said. “We’ve just got to win every game from now on, it’s so important. I think we’ll perform well under that pressure because the heat is on.”

Her coach is a little more upbeat but Wright was disappointed at not being able to finish off an excellent three and a half quarter display against New Zealand side Central Pulse last Sunday.

“It’s not quite do-or-die, but it’s getting to that situation,” Wright said. “In reality, we know we need to win four of the five games to make the top three in our conference; that is not going to be an easy challenge. This one is going to be crucial for us.”

The main players on Wright’s watch list will be “superstar” captain Bianca Chatfield and defender Geva Mentor, among a number of other “world class players” who will set up a salivating interstate rivalry in front of a potential record crowd.  “There’s nothing like playing at home,” Wright said. “Our members and fans are the best in the world and the support at home has just been unbelievable … I’ve never seen anything like it.”

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