Bianca Chatfield and her vanquished preliminary final teammates will congregate on Sunday to watch the ANZ Championship grand final they had planned, rather optimistically, to contest. The prediction? Having seen both title candidates at painfully close range over the past fortnight, the captain of the only side to beat the Adelaide Thunderbirds in the title favourites' near-flawless season favours Queensland to pinch its second flag.

''I get the feeling that Firebirds are going to win,'' said Chatfield, the Vixens' 2009 premiership defender and reinvented Diamonds regular, stressing the importance of an encore performance from 196-centimetre shooter Romelda Aiken. ''If Romelda plays the way she did against us and the feeders feed her like they did - if they have the confidence to get the ball and just put it up to her - I'm not sure what Adelaide can do to stop it.''

Chatfield is well-qualified to wonder. The combined might of the league's best negating duo was not enough to thwart a match-winning 37-goal performance last Sunday from the Jamaican colossus, and while Thunderbirds Sharni Layton and Bec Bulley are a robustly combative defensive pair, the quality and quantity of assists coming from Chelsea Pitman, Nat Medhurst and young Kim Ravaillion could well make Aiken impossible to counter.

Of her 628 goals (average 42) this season, Aiken has scored 46 and 44 in her two 2013 outings against the Thunderbirds, who have nevertheless won both games by an aggregate of three goals. Indeed, Adelaide's only loss was inflicted by the Vixens back in round two, 12 wins ago, as goal attack Erin Bell has played a valuable supporting role to lead scorer Carla Borrego, and wing defence Renae Hallinan has produced close to career-best form.

Although the Firebirds trail Adelaide 2-10 overall, coach Roselee Jencke believes their success in withstanding the Vixens' late surge will prove to be a valuable test of nerve ahead of the 2011 champion's second grand final from as many play-off series. Consistently mid-table in the balance of its six seasons, Queensland boasts a perfect 4-0 record in the netball equivalent of September, and has won eight of nine games on the road this season. Should Queensland win the grand final, it would be the first team to win the championship from fourth.

''We have enough experience in there to know that we will be able to handle it,'' says Jencke. ''We've been there before, so we know that it is a wonderful time and the centre of attention is all on us.''

But even more so on Adelaide, the closest an Australian city gets to matching the Kiwi-style popularity of a sport that still struggles for mass exposure elsewhere. The leading Thunderbirds are genuine media celebrities at home, and have upgraded their grand final day venue from the cosy Netball SA Stadium to the 9300-seat Adelaide Entertainment Centre, where spectators will witness the crowning of the league's first two-time champion.

Either way it will be uncomfortable long-distance viewing for the Vixens, who dropped four of their last five games to plunge from premiership contention to oblivion, ending with a 10-goal away semi-final loss to the Thunderbirds and then a four-goal defeat by Aiken's well-travelled Firebirds last Sunday. And even those tipping Adelaide, such as Diamonds defender Mo'onia Gerrard, sagely note that ''you can't really beat a tall shooter, though, can you?''

But, then, can anyone beat the T-birds, if not the Vixens, the only team to manage it so far in 2013? After all, Adelaide has its own imposing goaler, the 193-centimetre Borrego. So we shall see. Even those who would rather not.

''We're all going to get together and watch it - I don't know why, but we will,'' quipped Chatfield. ''It is hard to watch, definitely, and you don't really want either team to win, but you know that one of them has to. But we can't change it, it's our own fault, we've got to move on. It's our fault we're not in that grand final,''