Tag: netball results

2020 GIANTS Netball: Season review

WITH the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) season done and dusted Draft Central takes a look back at the year that was for each team, where they went wrong, improvements and hopes for the 2021 season. It has been an unconventional season to say the least with a condensed season, rolling subs, introduction of the super shot, extended benches and of course the Queensland hub making for an action packed year of netball. GIANTS Netball finished in sixth place in what was a disappointing season, producing some solid performances but unable to consolidate.

Ladder: 6th
Win-loss: 5-9
Percentage: 99.3%

Overview:

The GIANTS had a bit of an on and off season, firing in patches but overall unable to really take control of games consistently. The side faced its fair share of controversy during the season with Kristiana Manu’a sent off the court during Round 5 and Australian Diamonds captain Caitlin Bassett rarely getting court time, but the GIANTS showed some good signs regardless and continuously pushed sides to take risks given their penchant for the two-point super shot. Jamie-Lee Price was one of the standouts throughout the season with her hunt for the ball constantly on show, also providing a consistent and tough option on circle edge to thread the needle into the circle when required. She looked far more comfortable out in centre this season as Amy Parmenter was consistent as ever backing her up in the back-end of the court, while defensively Manu’a and Sam Poolman seemed back with a vengeance inside the goal circle.

Young guns in Kiera Austin and Tilly McDonell consistently stood up under pressure, with the former cementing her starting position by the end of the season, and the latter proving she is more than capable of having an impact during the big moments. Captain Jo Harten relished her regular position of goal shooter after spending more than a season out the front in goal attack, and while it seemed to take the side a bit of getting used to thee long bomb specialist was a constant threat with her ability to point and shoot and have an impact in a split second. Overall, while the lows of the 2020 season were disappointing, the GIANTS showcased some exciting talent and ultimately could have gotten a few more wins on the board if it was not for minor inconsistencies. 

Shining light:

While the GIANTS did not have a heap of impressive games throughout the season, there is no doubt the continuous impact of Austin paid dividends in the goal circle with her clean and smooth movement and ability to create as much great play and ball movement as she benefited off. While it was not the most accurate season from the goal attack, shooting around the 70 per cent range, her silky footwork and ability to find the ball paid dividends. She was constantly a threat both inside and outside the circle with her defensive capabilities showcased by her 27 deflections and 12 intercepts, while her ability to point and shoot from just about anywhere inside the goal circle allowed her to be a threat on both the attempt and assist. Her partnership with Harten inside the circle and Maddie Hay outside saw the trio creatively and consistently press in attack, while Austin was also a huge battle on the transverse line finding the centre pass with ease.

Best off-season pickup:

GIANTS Netball was one of the only teams to not pick up any significant players, at least over the preseason with April Brandley a late pickup with the defender returning from pregnancy. But while Brandley was solid when she took the court, it was Hay who really stepped up this season after being elevated from being a training partner. While over the first few rounds she sat on the sidelines, Hay made the wing attack position her own once the pairing of Harten and Austin at the post was consolidated, finding circle edge with ease and injecting plenty of speed into attack. Hay’s ability to split the circle with her great vision into goal was showcased throughout the season, with her ability to zip into the pocket and deliver quickly and effectively. While not an off-season pickup, there is no doubt that Hay’s elevation played a handy role in allowing the goaler to consistently command ball.

Prediction:

The GIANTS have unfinished business after this season and will surely be raring to go in 2021. While it has already been announced that Bassett will not remain with the GIANTS and will instead ply her trade across the ditch in New Zealand, little has been confirmed from the GIANTS camp when it comes to her replacement. The side has a couple of impressive youngsters coming up through the pathway in Matisse Letherbarrow and Sophie Dwyer, so the real question will be whether they choose to elevate a young gun or look for some more established talent to join the fold.

Fever dominate Lightning to earn 2020 grand final berth

AN exciting Suncorp Super Netball preliminary final matchup between the Sunshine Coast Lightning and West Coast Fever saw the Fever dispose of the Lightning in another exceptional showing, dominating the first three quarters to run away with a 73-59 win and a chance at holding the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) trophy next week when they take on the Melbourne Vixens. The Lightning have been bumped out of premiership contention for the first time in SSN history, with the Fever finally getting the side back for the 2018 grand final loss.

A competitive and highly defensive start to the preliminary final forced patience from both the Lightning and Fever from the get-go, with neither side able to pull away with so much pressure on every ball. The Lightning home crowd was a huge eighth player, egging on the home side, though it was the Fever that got the first break through an excellent Jess Anstiss steal.

The Lightning attack in Steph Wood and Cara Koenen were firing well early as was speedster Laura Scherian, but it appeared that the defensive unit was still in warmup mode, unable to get hands to ball and seeing the Fever put up a couple of unanswered goals through both Jhaniele Fowler and Alice Teague-Neeld. While Courtney Bruce had early hands to ball but could not collect the gain, Stacey Francis got in on the action for an excellent intercept to propel ball forward once more. 

Both teams continued to apply a wealth of pressure on the ball, seeing bodies flying early and no easy access to goal. the Lightning defence seemed unable to stop Fowler, with both Phumza Maweni and Karla Pretorius unable to win back possession lost from the Lightning front end. The Fever ran away with a huge nine goal lead at the first break.

A huge second quarter saw the Fever start strong once more, with the Lightning’s lack of hands over pressure through the midcourt continuously allowing the Fever to speed down the court with ease. A great gain from Pretorius and goal – Lightning’s first for the game – saw the home side add one back off a Fever centre pass but wasted the next ball as the Fever continued to build. A lack of movement in the Lighting attack saw stagnant play and forced ball back to the centre third.

A renewed-looking Pretorius and Maweni began to apply a bit more pressure on Teague-Neeld which opened up a couple of opportunities, and while the scoreline remained much the same the Lightning seemed to be pulling back a fraction of the momentum. But a lack of confidence going to post over Bruce’s long arms cost the Lightning, with the Fever stealing the loose ball back and benefiting off every ounce of hesitance. A huge battle was waging between Laura Langman and Verity Charles, with the latter stage of the quarter showcasing the two centres’ hunt, but seeing a huge 16-goal buffer at half time.

The second half started on Fever’s terms once more with only a couple of passes required to find Fowler at the post. Relentless defensive pressure from the Fever saw the change made in the Lightning attack with Peace Proscovia taking the court and using her strength to put up an early goal against Bruce. But a huge scoreline continued to blow out, with Wood unable to fire against the physicality of Francis outside the circle and Bruce’s continued pressure inside.

Fowler continued to be a thorn in the Lightning’s side, constantly finding the ball with ease and absolutely dominating against Maweni and Pretorius who had no answer for the high ball coming into the circle. A couple of super shots from Steph Wood drew back the margin and patches of momentum once more, although the Lightning continued to allow too much easy ball to both Fowler and Teague-Neeld which saw little chance for the momentum and scoreline to fully swing back the way of the home side, with a huge margin going into the final quarter. 

A better start from the Lightning saw an even start to the final term, with both teams defending hard but not many players getting hands to ball when required. But Fever continued to control proceedings, easing down the court with vision on song given the lack of hands over pressure. Whenever the Lightning looked like they were up and about, the Fever were there to win ball back and do it in style, with Francis and Bruce continuing to fire from all cylinders.

Bruce hunting allowed Proscovia to find a couple of easy goals however a lack of turnover ball continued to see little opportunities to reduce the margin. The super shot period began with a couple of Wood goals while the Fever gave some young blood a run given the blown out scoreline with Courtney Kruta heading into centre. The Lightning continued to chip away the scoreline but it was too little, too late as the Fever ran away with a 14-goal win and grand final berth against the Melbourne Vixens next week.

Bruce and Francis were exceptional with 14 gains (five intercepts) between them, while Charles also nabbed two intercepts through the centre. Player of the match Emma Cosh and Teague-Neeld starred finding Fowler at the post, managing 28 and 25 assists respectively, with Teague-Neeld also putting up 10 goals from 18 attempts (three super shots). Fowler was commanding as ever with 60 goals from 62 attempts at 97 per cent.

For Lightning, Pretorius was quiet but still managed five gains (two intercepts) while Maweni racked up five deflections but zero gains and Jacqui Russell managed an excellent intercept to close out her career after announcing her retirement. A shared effort to post saw Wood (21 goals from 29 attempts, eight super shots), Proscovia (16 from 18) and Koenen (14 at 100 per cent) ultimately just not get enough volume to get the job done.

>>>FEVER TEAM PAGE
>>>LIGHTNING TEAM PAGE
>>>FULL MATCH STATS

SUNSHINE COAST LIGHTNING 12 | 11 | 18 | 18 (59)
WEST COAST FEVER 21 | 18 | 20 | 14 (73)

Lightning

GS: Cara Koenen
GA: Steph Wood
WA: Laura Scherian
C: Laura Langman
WD: Maddy McAuliffe
GD: Karla Pretorius
GK: Phumza Maweni

Fever

GS: Jhaniele Fowler
GA: Alice Teague-Neeld
WA: Emma Cosh
C: Verity Charles
WD: Jess Anstiss
GD: Stacey Francis
GK: Courtney Bruce

 

Blistering final term ends in GIANTS and Swifts draw

IT was a nail-biting finish to the New South Wales derby as neither side could be separated rounding out the game at 77 goals apiece. A scintillating final term at the hands of GIANTS captain Jo Harten gifted her side a draw after converting six super shots, despite being down by as much as 10 goals to the Swifts. It was a whirlwind contest as the lead changed hands multiple times while there were a couple of notable omission for both sides in the form of star goalers Helen Housby and Caitlin Bassett both out due to injury.

It was an even start to the game as both sides managed to convert from their centre pass before a hand in from Kristiana Manu’a saw the GIANTS stream down court and capitalise. Out to a two-goal lead early thanks to the hot hand of Kiera Austin and Harten the NSW Swifts answered the call through Maddy Turner. The goal defence starred in the opening couple of minutes of the term with her ability to track the ball and rack up the intercepts to stop the GIANTS in their tracks. Taking a few minutes to settle into the new attacking combination, the work of Paige Hadley came to the fore as the centre delivered bullet passes into the circle.

The back and forth nature of the game continued as the Swifts and GIANTS failed to be separated sitting at 11 goals apiece before a timeout was called by the Swifts. Entering the super shot period Austin showed her class, nailing back to back super shots to extend the GIANTS’ lead to four goals. the goal attack was finding plenty of space while up the other end Sam Wallace starred for the Swifts highlighting her ability to score from range and keep her side within striking distance. It was turning into a super shot shootout as both sides looked to find an edge but in the end it was the GIANTS that drew first blood.

The second quarter started a bit scrappy with ball ebbing and flowing down the court before the Swifts landed the first blow to eat into the two-goal margin. Quick ball movement seemed to be the way to go for both sides while the Swifts made a couple of changes in hope to upset the GIANTS. Lauren Moore made her way onto the court in wing defence while Maddy Proud pulled on the centre bib. The connections across court seemed more settled as the Swifts weaved their way down the court and stole back the lead albeit momentarily.

The goal keepers started to come into the game as Sam Poolman took an intercept before Sarah Klau answered the call with an intercept of her own. The Swifts continued to tinker with their frontend as Tayla Fraser entered the game thanks to the pressure and antagonising style of Amy Parmenter. The physicality continued to ramp up throughout the quarter as Austin flew into the post and Moore hit the deck a couple of times. While the Swifts switched up their attacking unit the GIANTS brought on the experienced April Brandley in goal keeper. Much like the first quarter the final five minutes were dictated by the super shot as Austin and Sophie Garbin plied their trade for their respective sides. In the end it was shot on the buzzer from Harten that gave the GIANTS a handy two goal buffer.

A hot start to the third term saw the Swifts nail the first four goals of the quarter and establish a two-goal lead. defensively things started to really kick into gear while their transition through the midcourt enabled the Swifts to put the foot down and keep the scoreboard cogs ticking over. The GIANTS simply had no answers for the Swifts who had a real pep in their step with a seven goal to one start to the term, prompting a timeout. Turner and Sophie Craig worked on overdrive through the centre third with the former creating a wealth of tips and deflections. Down by as many as eight goals the GIANTS rallied in attack to cut the deficit to five but the continuous pressure stemming from the Swifts defence stifled the attacking notion of the Swifts.

Exploited in defence, Poolman re-entered the game in goal keeper while Matilda McDonell came on at goal defence. But that did not seem to stop the Swifts who had their tails well and truly up thanks to their blistering speed and increased confidence to release the ball. Inaccuracy plagued the GIANTS shooting end while the likes of Turner and Klau gobbled up anything that fell short. Wallace made it look easy up the other end as the goal shooter delivered time and time again on the super shot as the Swifts held onto an eight-goal lead heading into the final change.

The shooter to shooter interplay between Wallace and Garbin was working wonders while Proud and Hadley seemed to have the ball on a string finding both shooters with great ease as they continued to stretch their opponents. The GIANTS midcourt on the other hand laboured as Jamie-Lee Price and Maddie Hay struggled to have their usual impact. Parmenter continued to toil away winning ball back thanks to her speed off the mark but the Swifts’ composure kept them ahead of the game. Four consecutive super shots from Harten sparked the GIANTS across the court as they got within two goals. an offensive contact against Wallace gifted the GIANTS possession as they went forward and nailed another super shot to draw level. With the clock ticking down Garbin sunk a super shot of her own but Harten once again flexed her muscles to convert and secure a draw.

With no Housby for the Swifts, it was Wallace that took the reins under the post nailing a whopping 50 goals with six of them super shots. New Diamonds member, Garbin also impressed sinking 18 goals from 21 attempts while the efforts of Proud and Hadley did not go unnoticed as they amassed 10 and 16 goal assists respectively. Harten and Austin once again combined to be a formidable force from range with 17 super shots between them, 10 of them off the hand of Harten. Parmenter was the livewire for the GIANTS and took home player of the match honours thanks to her three intercepts and eight deflections while Klau and Turner combined for 14 gains, six of them intercepts.

 

>>> SWIFTS TEAM PAGE
>>> GIANTS TEAM PAGE
>>> FULL MATCH STATS

 —

NSW Swifts 22 | 17 | 23 | 15 (77)
GIANTS Netball 24 | 17 | 13 | 23 (77)

STARTING SEVEN:

 NSW Swifts:

GS: Sam Wallace
GA: Sophie Garbin
WA: Natalie Haythornthwaite
C: Paige Hadley
WD: Sophie Craig
GD: Maddy Turner
GK: Sarah Klau

GIANTS Netball:

GS: Jo Harten
GA: Kiera Austin
WA: Maddie Hay
C: Jamie-Lee Price
WD: Amy Parmenter
GD: Kristiana Manu’a
GK: Sam Poolman

Firebirds come from behind to win final match of season

THE final round of the season began with a battle between two sides that cannot make finals but left everything out on the court in their last appearances for the year. The Collingwood Magpies got the chocolates in their first meeting this season, but have not won a match since, while the Queensland Firebirds have been in scintillating form in recent weeks. While the Magpies maintained control for much of the match, the Firebirds’ winning ability came to fruition to finish on a high with a tight 65-63 victory.

An even start was quickly changed by new Diamond Kim Jenner, taking a three goal lead although the Collingwood defence looked sharp early too going out hunting. Scrappy play through the midcourt was no issue in the two goal circles, with all four goalers firing early and hitting the scoreboard well. The Firebirds’ ability to not only control possession but also maintain it was critical, with Mahalia Cassidy commanding the ball well and combining seamlessly with Lara Dunkley out the front to find Romelda Aiken and Tippah Dwan with ease. While the Magpies trailed early in the quarter, a great tip and gather from Mel Bragg saw the side work their way back into the contest, with a super shot from Gabby Sinclair seeing the Pies take their first lead of the game.

Excellent pressure and patience from the Firebirds paid dividends, with the battle between Dunkley and Bragg seeing Dunkley come out the better to see the Firebirds take back the lead. It was raining super shots with neither team able to control the play, forced to put up the super shot to take back the lead. Where patience was the name of the game early, a hasty final minute saw the ball ping pong between the two ends and Firebirds holding a narrow one goal lead at the first change.

Rudi Ellis was a good match for Shimona Nelson as the second quarter began, forcing a bit more hesitance on the feds and the shot with her long arms, while Jenner continued to be a nuisance out the front. Continued defensive pressure down the court helped out the Magpies though, with Molly Jovic pressing defensively out in wing attack and seemingly winning the battle against Gabi Simpson during the opening half. Nelson seemed to be having one of her best outings of the season, controlling the ball well and not coughing up as much loose ball as usual in a fantastic first half of the second quarter. The Firebirds attack seemed stagnant, with little flow as Geva Mentor and Tilly Garrett worked their way gradually into the contest and seeing Jemma Mi Mi enter the fray.

Mentor had her eye on the pocket ball, causing all sorts of chaos as the Magpies continued to hold a lead, calling a tactical time out and immediately capitalising as the Firebirds struggled to command the play. A clutch super shot from Aiken saw the Firebirds bite back but Sinclair continued to fire on all cylinders from the two point zone on the return. While the Magpies maintained control for much of the quarter, the Firebirds worked their way back into the contest with the super shots. But it was not enough, seeing the Magpies have the one goal lead at the main break. 

An even start to the third quarter saw Mentor and Jenner both come out flying, winning cruces ball back in what continued to be a tight contest. Tara Hinchliffe had a much better start after a quiet start early, finding much easier purchase and forcing Nelson into sloppy positioning. What had been a 5-1 start from the Magpies was fought back by the Firebirds, weaning back control although the Magpies managed to stay one step ahead thanks to the combination between Mentor and Garrett. Sinclair’s quick feeds to Nelson were paying off time and time again, exposing the height difference between Nelson and Hinchliffe and being evasive enough to force Jenner out of the contest. The two wing defenders were standing up, with both Bragg and Simpson doing everything in their power to win ball back with their great read of the play.

A quiet game from Dwan was not what the Firebirds needed when they were trailing by four as the super shot period began, absolutely nullified by Garrett and punished by the Magpies. Aiken’s 7000th national league goal was overshadowed by the Firebirds’ sloppy play out the front, with her fellow Jamaican goaler in Nelson going at 100 per cent at the other end. The confidence on the feed to Nelson continued to be the star of the show, with both Bragg and Garrett getting on the end of the assist stat to lead by four goals at the final change.

Nelson’s sticky fingers continued to find the ball as the two teams entered their respective final quarter of the season, with the two teams going goal for goal early. While the Firebirds got a few straight on the board, the Magpies continued to wrestle back control, applying a heap of pressure to keep both Firebirds goalers away from their confidence zones in the circle. Trailing by two, the Firebirds were playing the hard game to steal momentum and seeing the Magpies call a tactical timeout. The Magpies seemed to drop the ball in attack, with Hinchliffe and Cassidy pairing seamlessly to wreak havoc and Dwan switching on out the front and the Firebirds finally stole back the lead with just under eight minutes on the clock.

Neither side was making it easy for the other to get goals on the board, though it was Sinclair who stood up to put the first super shot on the board to steal back the lead. Nelson’s first miss of the game came at the worst possible time, with the Firebirds biting back to even the margin and then put another single on the board to lead once more. The seesawing affair continued as the Magpies had their opportunities, unable to find the super shot and going down by two goals after a huge battle, 65-63.

Hinchliffe was stellar with six gains (three intercepts) and two pickups, while Jenner was quieter than usual with two intercepts. Cassidy was exceptional through the midcourt, finishing with 26 goal assists from a whopping 51 feeds and a gain, continuously finding Aiken (47 goals from 52 attempts) and Dwan (11 from 14). For the Magpies, Nelson starred with 42 from 43 while Sinclair had one of her best performances with 15 goals (six super shots) and 27 goal assists. Meanwhile, the defensive trio of Bragg, Garrett and Mentor was on fire with 13 gains (eight intercepts) between them.

>>>MAGPIES TEAM PAGE
>>>FIREBIRDS TEAM PAGE
>>>FULL MATCH STATS

COLLINGWOOD MAGPIES 18 | 17 | 16 | 12 (63)
QUEENSLAND FIREBIRDS 19 | 15 | 13 | 18 (65)

Vixens

GS: Shimona Nelson
GA: Gabby Sinclair
WA: Molly Jovic
C: Tyler Orr
WD: Mel Bragg
GD: Jodi-Ann Ward
GK: Geva Mentor

Firebirds

GS: Romelda Aiken
GA: Tippah Dwan
WA: Lara Dunkley
C: Mahalia Cassidy
WD: Gabi Simpson
GD: Kim Jenner
GK: Tara Hinchliffe

GIANTS remain in touch with top four

IN a battle to keep their finals hopes alive, it was the GIANTS that came out on top against Adelaide Thunderbirds (64-54). The Thunderbirds had all the answers in the first quarter but the GIANTS fought back highlighting their experience and class against a young side missing co-captain Chelsea Pitman.

Jamie-Lee Price got things underway for the GIANTS in the centre and while it was laboured to work the ball down into attack it was the travelling side that drew first blood. Shamera Sterling was on song early with the goal keeper out hunting and picking up an intercept however Sam Poolman proved she could replicate her opposition goal keepers feats picking up a clever gain. Kiera Austin seemed to be the main avenue to goal with the goal attack nailing the first three goals of the game for the GIANTS as Jo Harten’s radar was well and truly off unable to hit the scoreboard. The speed and conversion of Adelaide was hurting the GIANTS as the home side skipped out to a handy two-goal buffer. Harten sunk her first goal of the game with a tick over six minutes played showcasing just how smothering Sterling was in defence. The lead continued to ebb and flow as the GIANTS worked their way back into the contest nailing three consecutive goals to edge ahead by a goal.

The GIANTS pushed narrowly ahead however they had their work cut out for them down back as Sterling showcased her strength on the rebound to block out Harten and send the ball back down the court. The long bomb passes from the Thunderbirds was working well, bypassing the mess with Lenize Potgieter continuously delivering under the post. With the scoreboard ticking down the Thunderbirds snuck ahead again thanks to a couple of strong defensive plays with each and every player hustling for the loose ball. Sterling brought out the party tricks with a huge rejection while a costly off-side from Price enabled the Thunderbirds to quickly transition down court and capitalise.

Out by three goals at quarter time the GIANTS ate into that deficit with Maddie Hay highlighting her defensive attributes to pick up an intercept. Inaccuracy seemed to plague the GIANTS with Harten and Austin missing four consecutive shots however they toiled away cutting the margin to a mere goal. The defensive pressure from the GIANTS was immense with hands three-foot marking seeming to be the focal point for both sides. The GIANTS levelled the score as they engaged in a goal for goal dance with neither side able to pull away. Kristiana Manu’a came to life in the second quarter with the goal defence coming out hunting. The battle between the two centres was physical with Maisie Nankivell and Price going toe-to-toe and racking up the penalties in the process.

Out in the unfamiliar position of wing attack, Georgie Horjus steadily worked herself into the contest combining seamlessly with Potgieter. The Thunderbirds rallied in the final six minutes of the term, hitting their straps in defence to regain possession and convert on the opportunity to re-establish a two goal lead forcing the GIANTS into a timeout. The GIANTS tinkered their line-up across the court with April Brandley entering the game at goal defence as Manu’a pushed out to wing defence while Amy Parmenter found herself in centre. The changes seemed to work wonders picking up plenty of ball. Austin found her range from the super shot sinking three straight as they skipped out to a three goal buffer. The momentum had well and truly swung into the GIANTS favour with their ball movement down court on full display as their increased defensive pressure caused havoc for Adelaide.

It was a fast start to the third term for the GIANTS, bursting out of the blocks to register the first three goals and extend the lead. but the Thunderbirds quickly answered the call going on a three goal run of their own. Searching for answers in attack the Thunderbirds threw the bibs around with Sasha Glasgow heading to the bench and Horjus making her way into the goal attack position while Hannah Petty was injected into the game in centre. Coming out of the timeout the Thunderbirds looked to attack with some real intent and peg the margin back while the GIANTS maintained their composure. Austin starred on the transverse line with a big intercept while Parmenter’s drive through the centre was second to none.

The combination of Layla Guscoth and Shadine van der Merwe were doing a wealth of work to bring the ball down the court and help out in attack. the duo really started to kick into gear collecting a couple of loose passes with Potgieter rewarding them for effort. Sterling was getting plenty of hands to ball, creating tips on the shot but the GIANTS managed to regain possession time and time again to keep the scoreboard ticking over.

Holding a game high 12-goal buffer the GIANTS did not skip a beat despite making a couple of changes with Price re-entering the game in centre and Parmenter switching into wing attack. Harten brought out the party tricks with an intercept followed up by a layup as the ball seemed to fall the way of the GIANTS. Kate Shimmin was injected into the game but that did not seem to faze the GIANTS who had the ball on a string and continued to add to their lead. Despite a couple of late super shots from Horjus the GIANTS stood tall notching up a 10-goal victory.

The South African was her usual dominant self under the post racking up a game high 41 goals at 97 per cent accuracy, while Glasgow struggled to find her range sinking five goals in her 34 minutes on court. Through the midcourt it is hard to go past the efforts of Nankivell with the centre doing a wealth of work to collect 22 goal assists and two gains, while Parmenter was equally as impressive with 12 goal assists and two intercepts. In the shooting circle for the GIANTS, it was Austin that led the way with 30 goals, four of which were super shots and walked away with player of the match honours, while after a shaky start, Harten found her rhythm finishing with 28 goals at 76 per cent. Sterling was unmatched defensively in a stats stuffing performance walking away with eight gains, two of which were intercepts along with 10 deflections and five rebounds.

>>> THUNDERBIRDS TEAM PAGE
>>> GIANTS TEAM PAGE
>>> FULL MATCH STATS

— 

Adelaide Thunderbirds 13 | 10 | 13 | 18 (54)
GIANTS Netball 10 | 18 | 20 | 16 (64)

STARTING SEVEN:

Adelaide Thunderbirds:

GS: Lenize Potgieter
GA: Sasha Glasgow
WA: Georgie Horjus
C: Maisie Nankivell
WD: Shadine van der Merwe
GD: Layla Guscoth
GK: Shamera Sterling

GIANTS Netball:

GS: Jo Harten
GA: Kiera Austin
WA: Maddie Hay
C: Jamie-Lee Price
WD: Amy Parmenter
GD: Kristiana Manu’a
GK: Sam Poolman

Firebirds go back-to-back for first time since 2018

A HUGE second Battle of the Birds saw the Adelaide Thunderbirds host the Queensland Firebirds with the two teams sitting toward the bottom half of the ladder but technically within touching distance of the top four. The Firebirds were hot from the starting whistle and did not stop despite the continuously mounting pressure, running away with a 61-59 win.

The Firebirds started very strong defensively, forcing a couple of early turnovers from the Thunderbirds with the midcourt attack unit of Lara Dunkley and Tippah Dwan blocking vision as the likes of Mahalia Cassidy and Gabi Simpson denied easy drives up the court. An early six goal run from the Firebirds saw the Thunderbirds call an early tactical timeout, with Maisie Nankivell making every effort defensively to disrupt the circle flow. The Jamaican matchup between Romelda Aiken and Shamera Sterling was huge, with Aiken seeming to have a lot of the early control before an offensive contact allowed the Thunderbirds to convert off a much-needed turnover. Plenty of patience was taken by the Firebirds early in attack, chipping the ball around and making the most of Aiken’s control in the circle. The attack was confident, seeing Dwan collect a magnificent intercept up high on the defensive transverse line, and the Thunderbirds were seemingly left reeling by the Firebirds’ fast start. 

Lenize Potgieter was not as efficient with ball in hand as usual, racking up turnovers early, unable to assert herself on the contest with the heavy defence of Tara Hinchliffe and Kim Jenner. It was a huge start from Dunkley, as the midcourter went out hunting and running laps around Nankivell forcing the wing defence further up the court. A good start from the Firebirds saw three straight goals to the away side to start the second, with the Thunderbirds unable to disrupt the flow and confidence of the Firebirds. While a lot of the attack unit had starred early for the Firebirds, Jenner got involved and helped the Firebirds extend to an 11-goal margin just five minutes into the second. 

A great intercept from Layla Guscoth aided the Thunderbirds in taking a few little wins, chipping away at the margin but they needed a couple more clean turnover ball gets first. Despite efforts from Shadine van der Merwe and Sterling, the Thunderbirds just could not take possession of their deflections, allowing the Firebirds to win ball back with ease. Hasty movement from the Thunderbirds but hesitance on the assist was what was letting the home side down, with precision perfect passes by the Firebirds and extensive hands over pressure reducing easy options into the circle. Nankivell did not stop out in wing attack, constantly driving hard toward the ball, with the movement paying off as Potgieter put a super shot on the board. Errors continued to plague the Thunderbirds though, and while the Thunderbirds found pockets of the form they needed to pull back the lead it was not enough with the margin remaining at 10 goals. A couple super shots from Georgie Horjus allowed the Thunderbirds to draw back, although Dwan was not to be outdone as the Firebirds put one back on the board. A super shot shootout saw the Firebirds come out worse off but still with a convincing seven-goal lead, dominating much of the contest. 

The second half started with both teams coming out strong once more, both putting quick goals on the board and Sterling plucking a great ball out of the air to transition down the court and put up a goal courtesy of Potgieter. Much better movement down the court from the T’birds did not pay off, with stagnant attack forcing a held ball from Hannah Petty who did everything she could to win back the ball down the other end. Horjus injected herself much better this quarter, finding a bit more ball inside the circle and using her movement to zip around the circle with Potgieter often being double defended. 

The physical matchups down the court stepped up a notch, seeing bodies flying as the defensive pressure lifted across the court. The home crowd got involved as the Thunderbirds put five straight on the board to reduce the margin to five and the super shot period began. Horjus was quick to punish with a super shot on the board, and soon enough reduced the margin to two. While Horjus switched on in offence, opposition goal attack Dwan was hunting through the centre third, relentless in her pursuit for the loose ball. Soon enough the Firebirds made the change, with Macy Gardner hitting the court in centre to inject fresh legs and speed, settling the lineup well to stop the Thunderbirds in their tracks. The Firebirds only just had their noses in front by four as the quarter ended, with all the momentum swinging the way of the Thunderbirds.

A huge final quarter began with a Firebirds centre pass, with Aiken putting the first shot up and an offside from Petty allowing the away side to convert another shot to maintain control. Guscoth headed out to wing defence to take on Dunkley, forcing the wing attack wide while Kate Shimmin entered into wing defence to put hands over pressure on Dwan’s shot. The Firebirds still maintained control though, with a six goal buffer allowing a bit of breathing room as the tight contest continued. While Hinchliffe was working hard to negate Potgieter’s movement, she drew a lot of whistle as she did so which allowed some simple goals on the board for the Thunderbirds. 

With the Firebirds defence getting clumsy, the Thunderbirds attack needed to take advantage and so they did as the margin was reduced to four with just over five minutes on the clock. Both sides were looking for the super shot and neither were able to command space in the two-point zone, with tight defence from both sides forcing single shots on the board. But Potgieter proved she was willing to start them off, putting a super shot on the board while the time trickled down and a single goal margin the way of the Firebirds. Sure enough, the Firebirds were able to maintain control for the last 30 seconds to put one last goal on the board and reign supreme for a 61-59 win.

Aiken was huge with 45 goals at 87 per cent accuracy, aided by Dwan with 15 goals (one super shot) who also collected three intercepts, while Cassidy led the way for assists with 22. Simpson also collected three intercepts while Hinchliffe and Jenner combined for five gains. For the Thunderbirds, Potgieter impressed with 33 goals (two super shots) and Horjus stepped up when the side needed her most, shooting 17 goals of which seven were super shots. Nankivell led the assists tally with 22 and two gains, while Sterling was the only player to manage more than one intercept, coming away with two and four rebounds, with none of her 10 deflections resulting in gains.

>>>THUNDERBIRDS TEAM PAGE
>>>FIREBIRDS TEAM PAGE
>>>FULL MATCH STATS

ADELAIDE THUNDERBIRDS 11 | 17 | 14 | 17 (59)
QUEENSLAND FIREBIRDS 17 | 18 | 11 | 15 (61)

Thunderbirds

GS: Lenize Potgieter
GA: Georgie Horjus
WA: Chelsea Pitman
C: Hannah Petty
WD: Maisie Nankivell
GD: Layla Guscoth
GK: Shamera Sterling

Firebirds

GS: Romelda Aiken
GA: Tippah Dwan
WA: Lara Dunkley
C: Mahalia Cassidy
WD: Gabi Simpson
GD: Kim Jenner
GK: Tara Hinchliffe

Fever make it two from two against Lightning

THE top four battle well and truly lived up to the hype in the opening stanza as the Sunshine Coast Lightning had the early ascendancy before West Coast put the pedal to the metal running out 20-goal victors (72-52). Neck and neck to start the contest, the Fever simply proved too strong across the court carving up the Lightnings’ defence and capitalising on the opportunities that fell their way.

Despite hitting the scoreboard in the first 20 seconds of the game the scoring dried up in the next couple of minutes as the ball ebbed and flowed down the court. An uncharacteristic miss from Cara Koenen under the post sent the Fever into attack as their patient approach down the court enabled Jhaniele Fowler to assert herself early. Courtney Bruce came out with a real fire in the belly down back for West Coast swatting away ball time and time again and putting doubt into the feeders minds. A lack of continuity in the frontend of the Lightning saw a wealth of ball lost in transition while the Fever put the foot down skipping out to a five-goal lead.

An animated Steph Wood brought the Lightning front half to life as the goal attack showcased her playmaking abilities and skill to go to post, however costly turnovers continued to plague Sunshine Coast. On the other hand the Fever remained cool, calm and composed as Bruce and Stacey Francis wreaked havoc establishing a six goal lead. Fowler was the main source of goals for the Fever however she did not have everything her own way with Phumza Maweni pushing her up high and contesting every pass, to make her uncomfortable on the take. Things started to kick into gear in the final minutes of the term with the Lightnings’ heightened pressure being rewarded with a held ball while Koenen and Wood found their groove under the post to outsmart Bruce and steal the lead.

After a seesawing start to the game the Lightning hit first in the second quarter with Koenen showcasing her impressive drive along the goal-line and finish. The Fever were forced to work in overdrive as they crafted the ball down the court but still managed to keep the scoreboard ticking over. A well-read intercept from Verity Charles off the Lightnings’ centre pass enabled the Fever to go down court and capitalise to level the scores for the first time that quarter. Emma Cosh found good space in the attacking third, hitting the circle edge with great pace and precision. Laura Sherian showcased her defensive attributes taking a huge intercept in the centre third and hitting the deck in the process but a couple of scrappy plays from the Lightning stopped them from making the most of their chances.

The momentum shifted towards the Fever as they created a handy five-goal buffer thanks to their composure in attack while their defensive pressure continuously mounted on Sunshine Coast. The give and go in the front half of the Fever gifted Alice Teague-Neeld her first super shot of the game as things really started to hum. Laura Langman came into her own throughout the term for the Lightning, commanding the ball and driving down court however the Fever proved they were up to the task weaving their way down court with great ease.

The Lightning made a couple of changes in the goal circle with Peace Proscovia entering the game in at goal shooter and Koenen switching out to goal attack while Jacqui Russell also made her way onto court in wing defence after half-time. It was a masterclass in defence from both sides as Bruce went streaming out for an intercept while Russell and Pretorius combined for a gain. The Lightning steadily pegged the margin back to three goals however the Fever plied their trade and went back to basics as they re-established a six-goal lead. The penalties started to rack up for Maweni with the goal keeper pinned for a wealth of contacts allowing Fowler easy passage to the post.

Out to a seven-goal deficit, the Lightning looked to quell the influence of their opposition, calling a timeout in hope to wrestle back some type of momentum. Another scrappy couple of minutes of play ensued as missed shots plagued the Lightning while bodies flew across the court. Wood re-entered the game but that did not seem to solve the problems in the attacking end for the Lightning as the Fever kicked it up a gear to extend to a game high 10-goal lead. Jess Anstiss was impressive throughout the term, nullifying the influence of Scherian while also highlighting her drive through the midcourt.

Wholesale changes from the Lightning saw Annika Lee-Jones earn some court time while the biggest change was Langman pushed to the bench. It was a turnover riddled start to the final term for both sides as the Lightning looked to attack. Lee-Jones inserted herself with an intercept and deflection in the early stages of the quarter but Teague-Neeld rose to the occasion leading the way for the Fever. It was a dominant final term from the Fever with their quick transition down play causing headaches for Sunshine Coast as they recorded an impressive 20 goal victory.

Fowler was her usual dominant self under the post, notching up a game high 55 goals at 95 per cent accuracy, while Teague-Neeld got busy out the front amassing 16 goal assists and four super shots. Youngster Koenen, led the way for the Lightning under the post piling on 29 goals for the evening as Wood showcased her super shot prowess registering three to go with her 12 goals. In defence it was the Pretorius of old as the goal defence gobbled up a wealth of ball including three intercepts and four deflections. Bruce was a menace down back picking up a whopping 10 gains, four of which were intercepts along with eight deflections while Francis also plied her trade collecting two intercepts and two deflections.

>>> LIGHTNING TEAM PAGE
>>> FEVER TEAM PAGE
>>> FULL MATCH STATS

 

Sunshine Coast Lightning 16 | 14 | 11 | 11 (52)
West Coast Fever 15 | 21 | 15 | 21 (72)

STARTING SEVEN:

Sunshine Coast Lightning

GS: Cara Koenen
GA: Steph Wood
WA: Laura Scherian
C: Laura Langman
WD: Maddy McAuliffe
GD: Karla Pretorius
GK: Phumza Maweni

West Coast Fever

GS: Jhaniele Fowler
GA: Alice Teague-Neeld
WA: Emma Cosh
C: Verity Charles
WD: Jess Anstiss
GD: Stacey Francis
GK: Courtney Bruce

Lightning strikes back at GIANTS in tight contest

IT was a rematch of the 200th Suncorp Super Match to open Sunday’s proceedings, with both sides hungry to go one better than their controversial last outing. Early messiness and inaccuracy from the GIANTS saw a shaky start seemingly pay off against the Lightning, and while the Lightning were far cleaner and efficient, the GIANTS proved they are capable of pushing through messiness for a two-goal loss (67-65).

The combination between Kiera Austin and Jo Harten seemed to be strong as ever, and while Austin did not always look like her confident self inside the circle her movement with Harten opened some great attacking plays. A huge start from Steph Wood saw the Lightning goal attack hit the scoreboard with ease, using her strong drives to expose holes in Kristiana Manu’a and Sam Poolman’s defence, I’m everything further up the court. Cara Koenen’s cleanliness was paying off too, getting some great ball from Laura Langman who came out flying.

Harten just did not seem comfortable back in goal shooter, lacking her usual movement and allowing Karla Pretorius and Phumza Maweni to find the rebound. A super shot from Harten saw the GIANTS take the front and the goal shooter seem to gain a bit more confidence and energy which had been decidedly lacking. The defensive prowess of the Lightning seemed to have learned from their last outing, tightening up the pressure outside the circle and not allowing too many easy passes to Austin or Harten. It was a super shot shootout, with both Harten and Wood finding their range and going at 18 goals apiece at the first change. 

It was a great start from Maddie Hay in at wing attack, forming a great option on circle edge and winning the early battle against Maddy McAuliffe. Another crucial player was Jamie-Lee Price, who helped produce the goods defensively while April Brandley entered the fray against Wood, limiting easy movement into the circle. But when Wood was covered Koenen flourished, using her quick feet and dodge to exploit the baseline drive as the Lightning extended a three goal lead. 

The tight contest continued, with neither team really able to steal momentum despite some good patches here and there. McAuliffe has had a great season so far and that did not stop in this game, lifting her output in the second and executing a few great turnovers. What had been a relatively high scoring first term was a lot closer in the second, with the contest right and no easy passages down the court. Peace Proscovia headed into goal shooter during the super shot period to rebound Wood’s super shots, but the GIANTS defence had switched on and continued to put Wood off her game, seeing the GIANTS trail by just one at half time. 

Both teams started the second half with confidence, cleanly finding the post with ease and patience traversing the court. Neither side was able to break the centre pass, with both attack units firing from all cylinders and the youngsters at the post in Koenen and Austin finding ball with ease. Creative movement and zippy speed from Laura Scherian continued to ply directly into Koenen at the post, while the spatial awareness and speed of the GIANTS attack opened up opportunities. 

Tilly McDonell entered the court in goal keeper as the Lightning extended a seven goal lead as the super shot period began, although the GIANTS fought back to a one-goal margin thanks to back to back – to back – super shots. While McDonell’s influence was not huge over the shot, her ability to go out hunting saw the youngster impact enough to change the momentum of the game for the GIANTS to remain down by one at the final change despite trailing majority of the quarter. 

Tight midcourt defence continued to be the name of the game, with Langman stepping back to wing defence, Scherian injecting extra speed into centre and Wood stepping out to wing attack. Koenen’s footwork and combination with Proscovia did not seem to skip a beat, while the other end saw a huge matchup between Hay and Langman courtesy of Hay’s ability to send the ball into the circle. Errors from both sides saw the scoreline continue to waver, with hesitance through congestion forcing sloppy patches. With a three-goal margin and the super shot period in effect, Austin sunk one to reduce the margin as Wood rotated into goal attack once more. 

McAuliffe stepped into centre and had an immediate impact, seeing the margin tick back to four goals but the GIANTS in with a chance of the super shot fell. Willing to take the single shots, the Lightning managed another few as the side gained some control and much needed momentum forcing Julie Fitzgerald into a tactical timeout to stem the flow. Two super shots in a row from Harten saw the GIANTS pull the margin to just one goal once more before Wood dropped one last super shot to win the game by just one, moments after Harten put up another super shot to tie the scores. The Lightning came away with a tight 67-65 victory that was just as close a final margin as the entire contest had been.

For the winning side, player of the match Maweni was huge on the rebounding front with five to her name to go with her three gains (one intercept, two deflections) while Pretorius managed five gains from her three intercepts and eight deflections (two to advantage) and McAuliffe continued her fine form with two intercepts. For the GIANTS, Price racked up two intercepts to lead the charge with her 19 assists, while every single player who took the court in orange managed a deflection but to no avail. The Lightning attack saw 31 goals sunk by Koenen from 32 attempts, while Wood assisted well with 19 at 83 per cent accuracy and four super shots from eight attempts. Proscovia did her job well when she had her time at the post with 13 goals, while for the GIANTS Austin was threatening in goal attack with 31 goals (five super shots) and Harten was solid as ever with 22 goals at 77 per cent (seven super shots from eight). 

GIANTS TEAM PAGE

LIGHTNING TEAM PAGE

FULL MATCH STATS

GIANTS NETBALL 18 | 12 | 17 | 17 (65)
SUNSHINE COAST LIGHTNING 18 | 13 | 17 | 18 (67)

GIANTS

GS: Jo Harten
GA: Kiera Austin
WA: Maddie Hay
C: Jamie-Lee Price
WD: Amy Parmenter
GD: Kristiana Manu’a
GK: Sam Poolman

Lightning

GS: Cara Koenen
GA: Steph Wood
WA: Laura Scherian
C: Laura Langman
WD: Maddy McAuliffe
GD: Karla Pretorius
GK: Phumza Maweni

Firebirds defeat Swifts in huge four-quarter effort

THE Queensland Firebirds executed a huge victory over the reigning premiers NSW Swifts on Saturday afternoon, dominating all throughout the contest and flying down court with newfound confidence. While the Swifts had their chances, the Firebirds were clinical and put on a show across the court, coming away with a magnificent 13-goal victory (77-64).

An even start saw both sides fire from all cylinders, with Romelda Aiken a tough mark and given far too much space early while Lara Dunkley proved she is more than capable of a starting spot on court. While the last line of Firebirds defence did not manage to win back a huge amount of ball early, the midcourt defence from the home side blocked Swifts vision down court and limited easy movement through the centre. Confusing space well, Tara Hinchliffe and Kim Jenner started cleanly to negate the smooth moving of Helen Housby on return from injury. While both sides were mostly accurate to post, neither side could really hit their targets as the loose ball continued to fly, seeing a heap of argy bargy to open the match. 

Maddy Turner had a great start, unafraid of the contest but adding penalties to her tally as she did so. At the other end, Sam Wallace was strong as ever not just on the hold but also the take, firing well at the post. While possession was well in the way of the Firebirds, the Swifts were more efficient with ball in hand and made the most of their opportunities. Racking up the penalties, Sophie Craig got an early caution for persistent obstruction, while the Firebirds continued to add to their tally to register a six goal lead heading into the final minutes of the quarter. The Firebirds’ transition down court was with plenty of speed, not allowing the Swifts a chance at getting hands over the ball. A seven-goal lead went the way of the Firebirds heading into the second.

The second quarter saw Paige Hadley head to wing defence, taking on the fast starting Dunkley. The Swifts continued to struggle finding connection down the court but were shooting at 100 per cent accuracy, making the most of their opportunities but overall wasting the ball they gained back. Aiken continued to have a blinder out the front, finding space with ease at the post while Tippah Dwan was confident to put the ball up front anywhere with Aiken on the rebound.

The Swifts began to win ball back and find better space in attack, chipping away at the margin as the defensive unit shook things and seeing a great deflection from Sarah Klau attacking the ball pay off. Lauren Moore was injected into goal defence following a tactical timeout, while Housby continued to zip around, showing no sign of soreness following a calf strain. Housby was unafraid to enter the defensive stats turning over the ball on a defensive centre, with the injection of Maddy Proud into centre well and truly paying off. With a smaller margin and both sides in with a chance of stealing momentum, both the Swifts and Firebirds put up super shots seeing just Dwan successful despite the Swifts’ efforts. Despite the Swifts getting the margin to three goals, Dean’s sharpshooting saw a nine goal lead extend for the Firebirds heading into half time. 

The third saw the Firebirds start well once more, putting the Swifts on the back foot and Dwan having an excellent purple patch early with heavy defence on Aiken. Errors continued to plague the Swifts, with wayward passes and wasted opportunities at the post from Wallace and Sophie Garbin. The Swifts attack unit was not a fan of the Firebirds’ physicality, allowing Jenner and Hinchliffe to get a look at some turnover ball, while Dean’s ability to draw the attention of the Swifts defenders allowed Aiken to have even bigger an impact. Proud’s improved confidence on the drive was huge through attack, although defensively it did not appear the Swifts were coping with the onslaught and pressure lacking through the centre third. The Swifts did not seem like themselves, having to be more patient than usual to counteract the hesitance the Firebirds were forcing on them. 

Where the Firebirds have tended to lead early and ease off throughout the game, they were a new-look side in this matchup, moving much better and charging at every single opportunity to get hands to ball. While individually the Swifts seemed to be firing up, as a full court they just could not seem to link up well leaving the loose ball alone and allowing the Firebirds to continue to power ahead seeing a 10-goal lead at the final change. 

Housby did every single thing she could in the final quarter to power her side into action, but the continued defensive pressure from Gabi Simpson and Mahalia Cassidy forced errant passes into the Swifts goal circle, combining effortlessly while Jenner and Hinchliffe were in everything. Aiken continued to run rings around Klau, with the goal keeper seemingly unable to decipher the towering goal shooter’s next move. While Wallace and Housby continued to fire on all cylinders, they just were not getting the amount of ball back that they needed to add to the goal tally, with a 13-goal lead the way of the Firebirds and eight minutes on the clock.

The Firebirds forced the Swifts to go for super shots, winning off rebounds while Dwan sunk another super shot with ease, proving how much pressure was on the Swifts unit which was raining attempts but lacking accuracy. Youngster Dwan continued to shine, sinking three super shots in the final term for a huge 13-goal victory (77-64) against the reigning premiers. This match saw the Firebirds win all four quarters for the first time since 2018, proving how massive this match was in terms of their growth.

Dwan was player of the match after a huge output resulting in 26 goals at 84 per cent (eight super shots), 37 centre pass receives and 14 assists, also managing one intercept and two pickups showcasing her ability to have an impact across the court. Aiken topscored with 43 goals from 44 attempts, while Wallace was not far behind on 41 from 42 but missing four of her six super shot attempts. Through the midcourt, Dunkley led the stats sheet for assists with 21, followed by Cassidy (18) and Proud (17), while in a very attack heavy game Hinchliffe was the only player to register more than one intercept with two to her name contributing to her five gains. 

>> SWIFTS TEAM PAGE

>> FIREBIRDS TEAM PAGE

>> FULL MATCH STATS

NSW SWIFTS 12 | 18 | 18 | 16 (64)
QUEENSLAND FIREBIRDS 19 | 20 | 19 | 19 (77)

Swifts

GS: Sam Wallace
GA: Helen Housby
WA: Nat Haythornthwaite
C: Paige Hadley
WD: Sophie Craig
GD: Maddy Turner
GK: Sarah Klau

Firebirds

GS: Romelda Aiken
GA: Tippah Dwan
WA: Lara Dunkley
C: Mahalia Cassidy
WD: Gabi Simpson
GD: Kim Jenner
GK: Tara Hinchliffe

GIANTS snatch victory in final 10 seconds against Firebirds

IT was an enthralling and heart stopping battle as GIANTS Netball stole a narrow one-goal win against Queensland Firebirds in the dying seconds of the game. Coming off their first win of the season, the Firebirds were up and about early but the super sub in Caitlin Bassett proved to be the difference between the two sides.

The Firebirds hit the scoreboard within the first 20 seconds, as Romelda Aiken picked up where she left off from last round, sinking the first goal of the game. An early fumble from the Firebirds on their centre pass allowed the GIANTS to stream down court and capitalise but Queensland fired back on the next play to win ball back and level the scores. A scrappy couple of minutes ensued with both teams getting a rush of blood and throwing ball away time and time again. Tara Hinchliffe asserted herself early reading the play well to pick up early ball and propel it back down the court but they struggled to capitalise. The finesse into the goal circle was missing for both teams as the GIANTS and Firebirds overcooked passes into the goal circle allowing the lead to ebb and flow with neither team able to gain any real continuity.

The GIANTS opened up a two-goal buffer and looked to maintain it with Jo Harten dictating the play in the goal circle and looking composed to post. However the final five minutes completely changed the flow of the game with the Firebirds kicking it up a gear as Tippah Dwan took control to nail back-to-back super shots and steal the lead. Dwan relished the precise ball placement from centre Mahalia Cassidy who was doing a mountain load of work through the midcourt for the Firebirds both in attack and defence. With the Firebirds taking advantage of the super shot, the GIANTS proved they were more than happy to take a cautious approach to goal

Holding a narrow lead at quarter time, the Firebirds looked to extend the lead with goal defence Kim Jenner coming through with a huge intercept. But the GIANTS cut back the margin to three goals as it turned into a shootout for the next couple of minutes as they went goal for goal. Aiken stood strong in attack constantly commanding the ball and delivering on the scoreboard to keep the tally ticking over. With the lead blowing out again the GIANTS called a timeout at the 10-minute mark with Julie Fitzgerald looking to the bench and brining on Diamonds goal shooter Caitlin Bassett.

Both sides came out of the break messy but it was the Firebirds that hit first through the hands of Aiken while Jemma Mi Mi found a wealth of space in the attacking third to hit circle edge. Queensland pushed out to six goals before Bassett found her rhythm under the post to sink consecutive goals to steal the momentum. The switch of Kiera Austin also worked wonders for the GIANTS with her clever placement into the circle while she also showcased her defensive attributes to pick up an intercept along the transverse line. A strong rebound from Hinchliffe sparked the Firebirds momentarily but an all round increased defensive pressure through the midcourt from the GIANTS created tips which most importantly translated into goals. Kristiana Manu’a injecting herself into the contest with a well-read intercept and was rewarded for her efforts slicing the margin to a mere goal. Strong in the opening term, Amy Parmenter also upped the ante in defence flying across the court to disrupt the Firebirds’ flow in attack. but it was the final play from Harten that levelled the scores at half time with the goaler sinking her first super shot of the match.

With scores tied at the main break, the Firebirds injected some fresh legs into the midcourt as Macy Gardner entered the court at wing attack and Lara Dunkley staying on at centre after finishing the second term. Neither side could be separated in the early stages of the quarter going blow for blow, however the quick transition down court for the GIANTS seemed to give them a slight edge over their competitors. Dunkley found good feeding space to deliver into Aiken while up the other end Jamie-Lee Price tussled hard.

Entering the super shot period it was Dwan that once again took the game by the scruff of the neck to sink the long bomb and steal the lead as the GIANTS showed their desire to play it safe. Firebirds skipped out to a three goal lead but the GIANTS pegged away at the lead through the hands of Bassett but it was Queensland that kept their noses in front.

GIANTS tied the scores within the opening minutes of the term before the Firebirds wrestled back the control to establish a two-goal buffer. With the game on the line Gabi Simpson took it up a notch matching Austin in attack and smothering her movement while Sam Poolman worked herself into the contest for the GIANTS to get them back on a level playing field. A flurry of goals from the girls in orange saw them extend to a three goal lead but that was short lived as the Firebirds clawed their way back into the contest forcing the GIANTS to take a timeout. With five seconds left on the clock Bassett delivered the match winning blow to clinch a one goal victory over the Firebirds.

After a stunning performance last round, especially from the super shot zone, Austin did not have the same influence with six goals but instead plied her trade in wing attack to rack up a team high 28 goal assists. Harten was a solid contributor for the GIANTS frontend with 21 goals at 88 per cent accuracy, while Bassett came out with a point to prove nailing 37 goals. Up the other end Aiken was influential as ever for the Firebirds to topscore with 43 goals and an impressive two super shots while partner in crime Dwan also plied her trade with four super shots to accompany  her 10 goals. Hinchliffe led the charge in defence racking up three intercepts and five gains while Manu’a also had a commanding influence down back with two intercepts.

>>> GIANTS TEAM PAGE
>>> FIREBIRDS TEAM PAGE
>>> FULL GAME STATS

GIANTS Netball 13 | 19 | 15 | 19 (66)
Queensland Firebirds 17 | 15 | 17 | 16 (65)

STARTING SEVEN: 

GIANTS Netball:

GS: Jo Harten
GA: Kiera Austin
WA: Maddie Hay
C: Jamie-Lee Price
WD: Amy Parmenter
GD: Kristiana Manu’a
GK: Sam Poolman

Queensland Firebirds:

GS: Romelda Aiken
GA: Tippah Dwan
WA: Jemma Mi Mi
C: Mahalia Cassidy
WD: Gabi Simpson
GD: Kim Jenner
GK: Tara Hinchliffe