BENDIGO'S Caitlin Thwaites and her Melbourne Vixens will have just seven days to come up with some answers to a red-hot Collingwood Magpies, after dropping a final round match to their crosstown rivals at Melbourne Arena on Sunday.
A powerful 58-47 win qualified the Magpies for the Super Netball finals, and at the same time eliminated the Giants.
Needing a victory with at least three bonus points to overtake the Giants for fourth spot, the Magpies took care of business at Melbourne Arena on Sunday by winning the first three quarters then clinching the match by an 11-point margin.
While both the Magpies and Giants finished level on points, the Magpies advanced on percentage.
The result will see the Magpies and Vixens face off again in a minor semi-final derby next Sunday afternoon at the State Netball Hockey Centre.
The Magpies struggled for consistency during the season but a run of three straight wins and a draw over the final month helped them to pip the Giants and end the career of retirement-bound Giants skipper Kim Green.
Nat Medhurst (16 goals, 19 assists) used all her big-game experience to steer Collingwood's attack while Ash Brazill again starred in midcourt, her recent move to centre playing a major part in the Magpies' late-season resurgence.
Shimona Nelson was the beneficiary of their good work and finished with 42 goals.
In contrast, Thwaites could only manage 21 goals in her three-quarters on the court. Tegan Philip also finished with 21 goals for a disappointed Vixens.
Collingwood's defensive pressure stifled the Vixens' attack throughout the match, leaving coach Simone McKinnis with some work to do ahead of next week's final.
The Magpies got the start they wanted with a 14-12 opening quarter, their defensive pressure forcing two held-ball calls against the Vixens in the final minutes to earn the first bonus point.
A 7-2 opening to the second term for Collingwood set up an eight-goal advantage but with the Vixens clawing back the margin, Medhurst cooly slotted a late goal to ensure the second bonus point and a 28-25 half-time lead.
With a semi-final place in their sights, the Magpies pulled away in the third quarter with a dominant 17-9 effort before closing out the result in the final stanza.
Have you signed up to the Bendigo Advertiser's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in central Victoria.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.