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Swifts head to Finals on high after thrilling win over Firebirds

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The NSW Swifts will head to the Suncorp Super Netball Final Series on a high after securing six competition points in a 64-63 thriller with the Queensland Firebirds at Qudos Bank Arena on Saturday.

The win momentarily puts the Swifts on top of the Super Netball ladder, however, the Sunshine Coast Lightning - who started the day two points clear of NSW - were yet to play their final regular season game against the Adelaide Thunderbirds.

Both the Swifts and Lightning have already qualified for next week’s Major Semi Final, the winner of which will go straight into the 2019 Grand Final. Whoever finishes top of the Super Netball ladder this evening will host next week’s game.

A fast and frenetic start from both teams saw them go end-to-end with turnovers rare. With 10 minutes gone in the opening quarter Swifts Head Coach Briony Akle called a timeout with the score 11-10 in her side’s favour. It proved effective, with Paige Hadley securing a turnover which allowed the home team to score three in a row and take control of the first 15 minutes. At the first break they led 18-14.

It was a different story in the second quarter as the Firebirds upped the intensity right from the start. The defensive pairing of Kimberley Jenner and Tara Hinchcliffe did a good job of disrupting the Swifts’ shape in the attacking end, while Gretel Tippett and Romelda Aiken were in good touch when it came to shooting.

As the Firebirds stepped up, the Swifts started to look more rigid in attack and a 19-12 win in the second quarter gave the visitors the second bonus point of the game, plus a three-goal lead at halftime (33-30).

The Swifts returned serve in the second quarter with a much better showing. Katrina Rore and Sarah Klau made life difficult for Aiken and Tippett, and a contact call against the latter gave Akle’s troops the break they needed to secure the quarter and another bonus point. Winning it 19-15, they also retook the lead 49-48 to setup a grandstand finish.

And a grandstand finish it certainly was. In a game that ebbed and flowed from the start, this was the quarter that proved to be the most enthralling. A Tippet intercept seemed to have given the Firebirds the impetus they needed to secure their second win of the year but contact calls against the visitors and great midcourt and defensive resolve allowed the Swifts to steady the ship, and Helen Housby the opportunity to seal the win.

Quarter by Quarter scores

SWIFTS | Q1: 18, Q2: 30 (12), Q3: 49 (19), Q4: 64 (15)

FIREBIRDS| Q1: 14, Q2: 33 (19), Q3: 48 (15), Q4: 63 (15)

Stating Teams

SWIFTS | GS Sam Wallace, GA Helen Housby, WA Natalie Haythornthwaite, C Paige Hadley, WD Maddy Turner, GD Sarah Klau, GS Katrina Rore

FIREBIRDS | GS Romelda Aiken, GA Gretel Tippett, WA Caitlyn Nevins, C Jemma Mi Mi, WD Gabi Simpson, GD Kimberley Jenner, GK Tara Hinchcliffe

Shooting Stats

SWIFTS: 54/68 @ 94%

S Wallace: 43/45 @ 96%

H Housby: 16/18 @ 90%

S Garbin: 5/5 @ 100%

FIREBIRDS: 63/70 @ 90%

R Aiken: 30/35 @ 86%

G Tippett: 33/35 @ 94%

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