GOAL SHOOTER: Caitlin Bassett in action at University of the Sunshine Coast against the Giants.
GOAL SHOOTER: Caitlin Bassett in action at University of the Sunshine Coast against the Giants. John McCutcheon

Diamonds coach can't see Lightning in finals

NETBALL: Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander has revealed the four clubs she believes will make the semi-finals of Super Netball - and the defending champions are missing.

Heading into the ninth round of 14 in the preliminary season, Alexander says she has been impressed with the intensity and lift in standard of the league since the inaugural season in 2017 won by Sunshine Coast Lightning.

But she is predicting big changes in the make-up of the final four from last year with two clubs who failed to make the semi-finals tipped to easily make the cut this season.

"It is really hard. It is very close this year,” Alexander said.

"But for me it is the Firebirds, Giants, Fever and I'll go for Vixens - they have been quietly going about their business. They are very disciplined and they are determined to get back to the four and give the finals a shake this time.”

The Giants, who finished runners-up to the Lightning in season one, and the Vixens both finished top four last year.

The Vixens also finished as minor premiers.

But the Firebirds failed to make it, finishing fifth, while Fever ended the season as the seventh ranked side in the eight-club competition after posting just two wins in their 14 regular season outings.

In a major turnaround, Fever is now leading the competition heading into round nine ahead of the Firebirds with the Giants third and the Vixens fourth.

Alexander has identified the Swifts - who take on the Vixens in a must-win battle in Sydney on Saturday - as the potential spoilers.

"The Swifts are the dark horse,” said the Australian coach who is using Super netball to help her select a new Diamonds squad for a series of internationals later this year.

"They could just get themselves in there. They are playing well, they have improved again.

"I just love watching those young players.”

The Swifts are protecting an impressive home record of five wins this season in a match which could have major ramifications for the make-up of the Super Netball semi-finals.

On Sunday, the Giants will take on the winless Adelaide Thunderbirds in a round nine outing which could see them return to the top two.