THE NSW Swifts have redeemed themselves this week with a convincing 12 goal win over the Queensland Firebirds in Round 8 of the 2021 Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) season. While the Firebirds could not seem to get their heads in the game properly, the Swifts played clean and clinical netball to secure the win.
Despite the Firebirds getting the first centre pass, a miss from Romelda Aiken caused a quick turnover and Sam Wallace scored the first goal for the Swifts. A quick run of three goals did see the Firebirds ahead four minutes in, but it was short lived, with the team having to play in chase mode for the rest of the match. Aiken continued to struggle to settle herself into the game, with a held ball at the post and another miss right under the ring in the first half of the quarter.
The Firebirds did show some promise early on, setting up a wall defence on the centre pass in an attempt to slow the Swifts up. However, Helen Housby’s hard drives combined with Wallace’s clever holds were no match for it. As the power play siren went signalling the final five minutes of the first quarter, the Swifts looked very much in control, playing their game at their own pace. Calling a timeout with two minutes of the first quarter to go, the Firebirds did briefly disrupt the Swifts momentum as a held ball was called against the Swifts once they got back on the court. But two super shot misses in a row from Tippah Dwan gave the Swifts all the opportunity they needed, finishing the quarter 15 -11 Swifts way.
The Firebirds had a bit of a lift in the second quarter, going goal for goal to keep the deficit at the four goals. Their defensive duo in Tara Hinchliffe and Kim Jenner were getting a few hands on the ball, but the team struggled to convert and gain back a few goals against the Swifts. While the Swifts kept their lineup the same, Jemma Mi Mi came on in wing attack and Dwan came back into goal attack half way through the second quarter to change things up and try and keep Sarah Klau and Maddy Turner on their toes.
As half time approached, Aiken still could not settle herself, taking four attempts to score a goal from under the post. Closing the gap to within three goals, the Swifts called a time out with just three minutes to go. A bad pass from Wallace caused a turnover and a subsequent goal from Aiken to close the gap to within one goal, but Wallace redeemed herself with two super shots, blowing the gap back out to five goals at half time (30 – 25).
The Swifts came out absolutely firing in the third quarter, getting up by eight goals in the first five minutes. The start saw Dwan remain in goal attack, as she demonstrated she was helpful in making space in the ring for Aiken, but could not keep up the pace as Bueta made her way back on court half way through. Tayla Fraser came into wing defence, with her energy and physicality adding another element to the Swifts already good game. In another attempt to slow up their momentum as their deficit reached nine goals, the Firebirds called a timeout.
With Wallace and Housby on a roll, Rudi Ellis was brought on in goal keeper in an attempt to shake things up, bringing just a bit more height and a fantastic vertical jump into the ring. However, it could not stop the connection between the shooters and captain Maddy Proud. Dwan was moved back into goal shooter as their scoreline continued to blowout, but the Firebirds attack line appeared tired and were fumbling things they normally would not. Doubling their goals for the quarter, the Swifts went into the final term 14 goals ahead.
The Firebirds were energetic heading into the final quarter, but it was too little too late. Paige Hadley was dominant in wing attack, with her great vision into the ring able to find Wallace home alone on occasion. Despite the stats not showing it, Turner was doing a great job in keeping Bueta out of the ring. Putting Jenner back in goal defence, Dunkley in wing attack and Hinchliffe into goal keeper, the Firebirds kept their heads up and got themselves back to within 10 goals as the Swifts called a timeout. Bueta scored a super shot with two and a half minutes to go, but a clever pick up from Proud and a spectacular layup from Wallace demonstrated how in control the Swifts were and had been all game. With a super shot from Aiken on the buzzer, the final score was 64 – 52.
Aiken finished the game with 39 goals from 49 attempts, while Bueta’s average was only 63 percent with her 10 goals from 16 shots. Proud was named player of the match, sitting on 126 Nissan Net Points (NNP) with two gains and two intercepts. Kim Ravaillion topped the charts for the Firebirds with 80 NNP. Defensively, Klau was instrumental in the Swifts win with her work on Aiken, collecting two gains, four deflections and an intercept. Hadley had the highest goal assists on 21, while Proud was not far behind her with 19. It is interesting to note that the penalty count was 36 for the Swifts, while the Firebirds had a massive 66 penalties against them.
NSW SWIFTS 15 | 15 | 18 | 16 (64)
QUEENSLAND FIREBIRDS 11 | 14 | 9 | 18 (52)
GS: Sam Wallace
GA: Helen Housby
WA: Paige Hadley
C: Maddy Proud
WD: Lauren Moore
GD: Maddy Turner
GK: Sarah Klau
GS: Romelda Aiken
GA: Gretel Bueta
WA: Lara Dunkley
C: Kim Ravaillion
WD: Gabi Simpson
GD: Kim Jenner
GK: Tara Hinchliffe
Photo credit: NSW Swifts Twitter