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Swifts come good to beat Giants

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The NSW Swifts have started their 2020 Suncorp Super Netball title defence with a thrilling 63-61 win over local rivals the Giants at Nissan Arena in Brisbane on Sunday.

It was a game that ebbed and flowed from start to finish with the Giants having the better things for much of it before the Premiers built up enough of a gap late in the contest to repel a Suncorp Super Shot-driven comeback at the death.

NSW Swifts Head Coach Briony Akle said it was a relief to have the first game done and dusted and a win on the board:

"Both sides put in a huge shift out there and the physicality was intense but I’m glad we got over the line," she said.

"We played some possession netball at the end and I would have preferred for us to take more shots and keep attacking but the players ultimately got it done and I’m very proud of their professionalism.

"Now we can get to our base on the Sunshine Coast next week and set ourselves up for the long stint away from home."

With Diamonds defender Maddy Turner ruled out of the opening rounds, a huge amount of responsibility fell on the shoulders of replacement Lauren Moore and she didn’t disappoint, putting in an-MVP performance.

"Lozzie has had so many injury problems the past few years but she has been in the Swifts environment since 2016 and now we are really starting to see her ability come to fruition.

"She is a proud NSW girl from the Central Coast and I know everyone down there today will be delighted to see one of their own doing so well.

"That was a hell of a fight to be thrown into today and she made the court her own."

Despite registering the first score off turnover possession with a beautiful Sam Wallace layup, the Giants settled faster than the Swifts and good defensive pressure was causing confusion in the Premiers’ attacking third. After five minutes the Giants led 5-2 before a loose Maddy Proud pass on the circle edge allowed the home side stretch the advantage to five mid-way through the opening period.

However just before the first Rebel Power Five of the game the Premiers harried and got back within two goals. Both Wallace and Helen Housby were unsuccessful with their first Super Shot attempts but soon started to hit the target. Wallace looked comfortable from range, as did Giants skipper Jo Harten, and the teams went to the first break tied at 17 goals apiece.

With a condensed season ahead Akle made changes early in the game with Natalie Haythorthwaite and Sophie Garbin both getting into the action early, while another NSW junior - Nicole Styles - made her club debut.

The second quarter was a scrappy affair with both teams lacking fluidity but when the Super Shot period hit Harten was proving difficult to handle from distance. The Giants goal attack struck just before the halftime break to be the key component in her side taking a five-goal lead to the big break.

The speed and physicality upped in the second half and the Giants were doing enough to keep the Swifts at bay before defensive pressure and excellent use of the Super Shot gave Wallace the opportunity to put the Premiers in the driving seat. In the space of five minutes the Swifts went from five goals down to leading by three at the final break, taking the quarter by 21 goals to 13.

They put their foot on the gas for most of the fourth quarter as Sophie Garbin - on for Wallace - provided a good target for her shooters. Garbin's combination with Housby was then starving the Giants of possessions.

Harten, however, wasn’t finished and had plenty to say as the end game approached - linking well with young shooter Sophie Dwyer to ensure the Swifts’ wouldn’t be comfortable until the final seconds of the contest.

The Swifts saw it out to secure the win and retain the Carole Sykes Memorial Trophy until the next time the sides meet later in the season.

Quarter by Quarter Scores

SWIFTS | Q1: 17, Q2: 28 (11), 49 (21), 63 (14)

GIANTS | Q1: 17, Q2: 33 (16), 46 (13), 61 (15)

Starting Teams

SWIFTS | GS Sam Wallace, GA Helen Housby, WA Maddy Proud, C Paige Hadley, WD Sophie Craig, GD Lauren Moore, GK Sarah Klau

Reserves used: Sophie Garbin, Natalie Haythornthwaite, Nicole Styles

GIANTS | GS Caitlin Bassett, GA Jo Harten, WA Kiera Austin, C Jamie-Lee Price, WD Amy Parmetnter, GD Kristiana Manu’a, GK Sam Poolman

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