Four will become three this weekend when the ANZ Championship finals series begins in Melbourne and Hamilton.
The Waikato-BOP Magic face the pressure of sudden-death netball in a must-win minor semi-final against the Adelaide Thunderbirds while the Northern Mystics cross the ditch to play the Melbourne Vixens in the major semi-final where the winner will earn a direct route to the championship grand final.
Both Australian teams have been beaten by their Kiwi opponents this season but can the New Zealand sides lift again in the cauldron of semi-final netball?
Major semi-final: Melbourne Vixens versus Northern Mystics
The fitness of LG Mystics defender Anna Harrison could well determine who earns the right to host the ANZ Championship grand final.
Harrison missed the last round-robin game with a calf injury and, despite replacements Rachel Rasmussen and Jess Moulds both standing up in her absence, will be key if the Mystics are to lift in front of a parochial home crowd at the Rod Laver Arena.
The Silver Fern trained this week but a decision on her playing status is yet to be made.
The Mystics surprised the Vixens and netballing world when they last met in Melbourne in round eight with the visitors unveiling what has since been dubbed the 'Harrison hoist'.
But don't expect the Vixens' shooting circle to be as shell-shocked should the Mystics pull out the hoist again having had enough weeks to work-out how to combat the move.
The minor premiers have impressed in recent weeks with their much-vaunted defensive unit continuing to deliver and their un-assuming attack line stepping up after a lull mid-season.
And mid-courter Madison Browne has led the charge from the front with a high work-rate and low error-rate in what has been a stand-out season for the wing attack and centre.
But the Vixens' main strike weapon in Sunday's semi-final could be what is expected to be a record ANZ Championship crowd.
It is the first time netball has been played at the Rod Laver Arena with 10,000 tickets released for the match and a further 4,000 available if needed.
Mystics' shooter Cathrine told the New Zealand Herald that the prospect of a record crowd would produce a "different atmosphere" for the semi-final.
"It could get very loud in there, but I have selective hearing anyway," she said. "It is going to be a very different atmosphere, but they're still the same players with the same strengths and weaknesses."
The Mystics have their own strengths across the court and coach Debbie Fuller has showed all season that she is not afraid to turn to her bench when the pressure mounts.
Settling on her defensive line could be Fuller's biggest headache of the week, particularly if Harrison's fitness remains in doubt.
Minor semi-final: Waikato-BOP Magic versus Adelaide Thunderbirds
After four weeks of the 2012 ANZ Championship, few would have picked the First Windows Waikato-BOP Magic to reach the top four, let alone host the minor semi-final.
But that is the position of the only side to have made the play-offs every year since the league started in 2008 - a run of nine straight victories, including a convincing win over their semi-final opponents, the Adelaide Thunderbirds, propelling them into the championship top four.
The Magic beat the Thunderbirds by 17 goals when they met last just over a fortnight ago but defender Casey Williams has consigned that match to the history books.
"It's semi-finals time, so everybody's going to lift and we're certainly not going to sit back and say 'we beat them by 17 last time, it's going to happen again'," she told media. "For us it's about making sure that we still do our jobs properly and all the way for the whole 60 minutes."
Williams and her Silver Ferns' partner Leana de Bruin helped spark their lift in form and shut Thunderbirds star shooter Carla Borrego out of the match in the round 13 match.
Magic shooter Irene van Dyk, who turned 40 last month, continues to set the bench mark in the shooting circle and showed against Queensland Firebird and Australian Diamond Laura Geitz, she has one of the best dodges in the game to add to her high accuracy, high workload and impeccable movement in the circle.
Two of netball's world-class centres go head-to-head in this match with Magic captain Laura Langman continuing to lead by example from the middle while Natalie von Bertouch is vital to the Thunderbirds' chances.
And the roles of the Magic lesser known players will be pivotal in the sudden-death match with Julianna Naoupu and Khao Watts up against a tough Thunderbirds line including Rebecca Bulley and Renae Hallinan, while Elias Shadrock will be called on to close down Emily Beaton.
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