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Capitals up their intensity for rivalry round

They’re traditional heavyweights who have both slumped this season, but expect Friday night’s Canberra-Bulleen clash to boast the spice and intensity of their recent grand final battles.
That’s the summation of Capitals coach Carrie Graf, who says their unfamiliar position of being out of finals contention won’t stop both teams from lifting for the WNBL’s biggest rivalry.
While Graf was diplomatic on Thursday, there remains no love lost between the Boomers and Capitals, which was only accentuated by their slanging match on season eve.
The Boomers reported Capitals centre Brigitte Ardossi for allegedly striking Bulleen star Rachel Jarry in a pre-season ‘friendly’ in September.
The WNBL cleared Ardossi of any wrongdoing, but the saga only added to a handful of recent off-court spats between the two clubs.
Before their last meeting in round three, won 75-74 by Canberra to toast stalwart Carly Wilson’s 250th game, Ardossi said ‘‘I don’t know what goes on in [Bulleen coach] Tom Maher’s head. It certainly would be interesting to know and spend a day as a fly on the wall.’’
Capitals skipper Jess Bibby chimed in by declaring ‘‘why they continue to nit-pick at little things that are irrelevant and really not necessary . . . we’ve got a long memory and they’re certainly things we can use [as motivation], but it’s certainly not something we’re going to dwell on because it’s only coming from the one source.’’
Having squared off in three straight grand finals from 2008-09 to 2010-11, Canberra (seventh, 6-13) and Bulleen (fifth, 7-12) have fallen from grace this season.
Canberra has won just one of its past 11 games, against bottom side West Coast, while Bulleen is riding a six game losing streak.
The Capitals however were given a much-need confidence boost after staying with title favourite Dandenong for three quarters last week, before succumbing 98-73.
‘‘In any sport there can be a changing of the guard, some people may perceive that [happening] in the league at the moment,’’ Graf said.
‘‘What we can take into this game it it will have finals intensity.
‘‘We’ve got I’d say a respectful rivalry with Bulleen, there’s a strong mutual respect between the coaching staffs, and on the floor.
‘‘There’s been some big clashes and big games, and I think we’ll see that intensity on the floor.
‘‘There’s teams you get up to play and we enjoy some of the individual contests against Bulleen.’’
Asked about the Ardossi incident, Graf insisted she doesn’t feel it have have a huge impact on what unfolds at AIS Arena on Friday night.
‘‘I’d forgotten about that to be honest, probably Bulleen haven’t and probably Brigitte hasn’t, I don’t know,’’ Graf said.  
‘‘I don’t think it will play a major role, it’s always physical in the post with big girls going body to body.
‘‘They’ve got some players with outrageous grit, Rachel Jarry is grit and persistence and ruggedness all over.
‘‘Ardossi is a physical player, she conducts herself well with her physicality and its in every rebound contest, so there’s going to be collisions.
‘‘I don’t think it’s going to be different to any other game.’’
Canberra has been dealt a blow with bench guard Mikaela Dombkins ruled out for the season with a knee injury.
A crucial impact player for the Capitals, Dombkins has missed the last four games with the issue and may require surgery.
‘‘They found some damage to her meniscus and she’s out for a minimum of six to eight weeks,’’ Graf said.
‘‘They’ll decide in the next week or so whether to do surgery or not.’’
WNBL Round 16: Canberra Capitals v Bulleen Boomers at AIS Arena, 7pm
Tickets available from Ticketek.