A HUGE match-up between GIANTS Netball and Adelaide Thunderbirds opened Round 2 of Suncorp Super Netball action, with the Thunderbirds holding ground for majority of the match to run out eight-goal victors (59-51). The Thunderbirds had plenty of hunger heading into this one after a disappointing outing last round, and with the knowledge the side had never beaten the GIANTS, they had a heap of drive to go one better than their previous matchups.
Clean play paid dividends early for the Thunderbirds, forcing hesitance from the GIANTS on the feed. Georgie Horjus got the start in goals alongside Lenize Potgieter, with the pair combining well at the post. At the other end, the battle between Caitlin Bassett and Shamera Sterling was fascinating, with neither player willing to give way on the take and both collecting some whistle in the opening minutes. But patience feeding the ball in paid off, and while the Thunderbirds had extended an early lead, discipline was not working in their favour and a wealth of turnover ball went the GIANTS’ way.
The even start saw neither team really control the play with so much even matching down the court, with Amy Parmenter riding Chelsea Pitman in attack and blocking vision on the feed. The beginning of the super shot period saw Sam Gooden join the fray in attack, but was unable to sink her first shot with the GIANTS running the ball down court to Jo Harten who immediately shot three super shots on the trot to extend a five-goal lead. The next centre pass gifted Bassett a shot under the post, as the GIANTS defence switched on in the last minutes of the quarter, outplaying the Thunderbirds at the post and ultimately forcing bunching and confused space in the circle. A five goal lead saw the GIANTS head into the second with plenty of confidence.
The Thunderbirds needed a quick start to the second to work back the margin and while they did not have it all their way, they were patient with delivery into the circle and did a wealth of work to block easy transition down court for the GIANTS. Kate Shimmin had a blinding start to the quarter, not once letting up and forcing a couple rogue balls into the circle. While they did not have the smoothest movement down the court it was doing the job, edging back the margin to two goals with 11 minutes on the clock.
The timing on the deflection and gather was impressive from the GIANTS though, managing to stay ahead credit to the work rate of Parmenter and the treasured ball out the front. With just over seven minutes on the clock Sophie Dwyer and April Brandley swapped into their respective circles, adding a new layer to the GIANTS but seeing the Thunderbirds take a lead with an uncharacteristic Harten miss from under the post as the Thunderbirds regained momentum and a lead.
A huge super shot from Horjus helped the Tbirds turn the tables, opening out to a five goal lead and securing majority of the possession across the court. Better ball movement driving down the midcourt paid off for the Thunderbirds, and while Kiera Austin also produced a super shot of her own, the Thunderbirds had the confidence and defensive prowess to change the tone of the match. A huge Harten super shot with a second on the clock saw the GIANTS reduce the margin to six at half time, with the impressive second quarter from the Thunderbirds blowing the GIANTS out of the water but the GIANTS still well and truly in the contest.
An interesting turn of events saw Bassett start the second on the bench, with Austin and Harten continuing their attacking combination to post. While little errors continued to plague the Thunderbirds – errant passes and breaking calls the main issues – they punished the GIANTS defensively with their constant hunt for the ball. But what could have been a 10 goal lead to the Thunderbirds was reduced to five goals with just five minutes on the clock.
A few wasted opportunities from the Adelaide midcourt allowed the GIANTS to continue to inch back the margin, opening up the real potential to retake the lead once the super shot period began. Jamie-Lee Price and Maisie Nankivell were well matched through the midcourt, with both centres being crucial playmakers out the front and canceling each other out in the centre third.
Shimmin continued to star and Tayla Williams made sure she had an impact through the midcourt, injecting herself well as she took the court to give Nankivell a well-earned rest. Shimmin’s drive up the court was influential, while the niggling defence from Sam Poolman and Kristiana Manu’a was beginning to irritate the Thunderbirds with a couple of offensive penalties going the GIANTS’ way but seeing a huge final quarter to come with a six goal lead the way of the Thunderbirds at the final change.
After a hugely defensive quarter, the win in this one would inevitably go to the team which could score the most off their turnovers. Pitman’s ability to find circle edge was instrumental, although so was the injection of Bassett back into the circle with the tall timber creating some space for Austin out the front. Nankivell rejoined the fray as a warning went to Shadine Van Der Merwe, with the Thunderbirds needing to spark back into action if they were to get the win on the board. With the momentum continuing to waver between both sides and high octane play seeing bodies fly across the court, the closeness of the contest was made more evident by the constant physicality.
Austin’s drive was stellar to open up the circle while hesitance on the feed from the Thunderbirds saw a couple of missed opportunities as the GIANTS edged ever closer, down by just four goals as the super shot period came into play. Chelsea Blackman made her season debut in goal defence, with her height paying off against Austin and forcing some air ball from the goal attack. Harten continued to put her body on the line but to no avail, with the Thunderbirds whittling down the clock patiently. While they did not treasure ball they hunted consistently to steal a huge eight goal victory (59-51), with their second quarter hot hands paying off.
Potgieter had another blinder with 43 goals at 96 per cent accuracy, while Horjus played 55 minutes and starred out the front with 12 goals – three super shots – and a whopping 22 goal assists to lead the court tally. Sterling racked up 10 gains while Sterling was phenomenal in goal defence with five gains (two intercepts). For the GIANTS, Poolman was impressive with eight gains from three intercepts (four and two in the first quarter) while both Parmenter and Manu’a had solid starts to finish with two intercepts apiece. The GIANTS were down on accuracy at just 63 per cent overall, with Harten (20 from 30), Bassett (12 from 15) and Austin (11 from 23) sharing the load for the most part.
GIANTS NETBALL 19 | 8 | 12 | 12 (51)
ADELAIDE THUNDERBIRDS 14 | 19 | 12 | 14 (59)
GS: Caitlin Bassett
GA: Jo Harten
WA: Kiera Austin
C: Jamie-Lee Price
WD: Amy Parmenter
GD: Kristiana Manu’a
GK: Sam Poolman
GS: Lenize Potgieter
GA: Georgie Horjus
WA: Chelsea Pitman
C: Maisie Nankivell
WD: Shadine Van Der Merwe
GD: Kate Shimmin
GK: Shamera Sterling