The Mainland Tactix face the real prospect of a winless season after losing 68-43 to the ANZ championship leaders Queensland Firebirds in Blenheim last night.
Extending their unbeaten streak to nine, the Firebirds showed their class to relegate the Tactix to another loss in the trans-Tasman netball competition.
The top of the Australian Conference against the bottom of the New Zealand Conference clash was always going to be a daunting challenge for the Tactix..
Book-ended by super shooter Romelda Aiken and the defensive skills of captain Laura Geitz, and well-supported by a bevy of talent in between, the Firebirds showcased their potency with an effective outing heading towards the Conference Finals.
The Tactix battled bravely throughout, producing some sparkling patches but all too infrequently against such an explosive opposition.
Exciting Malawi import Mwai Kumwenda had some clever little touches up her sleeve but couldn't get the better of Geitz while Bailey Mes produced an accurate shooting game, a lack of volume counting against the home team.
Enjoying the lion's share of possession and dictating terms throughout, the Firebirds endured some flat patches but signed off a comprehensive win in style by scoring the last nine goals of the match.
With Tactix coach Sue Hawkins continuing to tinker with her midcourt starting options, Keisha Grant (wing attack), Anna Thompson (centre) and Hayley Saunders (wing defence) were the preferred trio this week.
A five-goal unanswered scoring streak set the Firebirds on their way to a position of dominance, the visitors benefiting from all over court pressure as the Tactix continued to turn the ball over.
Enjoying a much greater volume of attempts, the Firebirds headed to the first break with a handy 18-11 lead.
Zoe Walker, who replaced Jess Moulds at goalkeeper for the Tactix late in the first quarter, made an impressive fist of the daunting challenge presented by Aiken, but it was the Firebirds who made a substantial impact when leading 37-24 at the main break.
Keeping the Firebirds honest through much of the second stanza, the Tactix were plagued by their season-long dilemma of untidy patches undoing all the good, mainly through poor passing execution.
A strong late surge pushed the Firebirds out to an impressive 52-37 lead at the last break, before they eventually triumphed 68-43 to claim the comfortable win.
The Tactix have one opportunity left to pick up a win when they host the Waikato Bay-of-Plenty Magic in the final round of regular season next week.