With some teams playing as though they had nothing to lose, and others like everything was on the line, round 13 Super Netball was laced with intrigue and exhilaration.
MAGPIES V SWIFTS (64 – 56)
The Collingwood Magpies spectacularly overcame the NSW Swifts, beating them 64 – 56 in Launceston.
With a top four sport on the line, the Magpies desperation was evident from the starting whistle.
Yet, the win was soured when star wing attack Kelsey Brown went down with a suspected serious knee injury.
The NSW Swifts have been the bonus point specialists throughout the season, yet were not able to snatch a single one on Saturday afternoon.
Instead, they struggled to combat an inspired Magpies side, who undoubtedly played their best match of the season.
Whilst Collingwood were briefly rewarded with a move up the ladder, the Giants’ victory means they now sit out of the top-four by just one point.
Rob Wright’s line up gelled like they haven’t before – each player complimented each other, whilst also starring in their own right.
Ashleigh Brazil excelled in her new centre roll, earning her ‘Player of the Match’ honours for the second week in a row.
“To get a win like that when you’ve got two teammates down, it means a lot” Brazil said in an emotional post-match interview
“I’m super proud of the girls and so happy we got the win, we played with a lot of heart,” she said.
The Magpies fight has set up the tone for next week’s final round.
Whilst they will face a tough matchup against the in-form Vixens, Saturday’s match suggested anything is possible.
THUNDERBIRDS V GIANTS (40 – 54)
GIANTS Netball have retained their finals spot in spectacular fashion, thanks to a 14-point win over the Adelaide Thunderbirds.
Following the magpies shock victory on Saturday, the giants needed to accumulate at least two bonus points to remain in the top four.
It was evident Julie Fitzgerald’s side knew exactly what they were playing for.
“Our fate’s in our hands,” Fitzgerald told AAP.
“We know exactly what we have to do and we know that we have to take each game as it comes.”
Whilst it was a scrappy affair, the Giants applied suffocating pressure, suppressing the Thunderbirds’ attack.
Consequently, Adelaide were playing catch-up early after a poor first quarter effort.
As the game progressed, they failed to keep up with the Giant’s physical and punishing game style.
Salt was added to the Thunderbirds’ wound with shooting duo Sasha Glasgow and Emma Ryde both suffering suspected knee injuries.
Collingwood’s earlier win was a game changer in the race to the finals, yet, this Giants performance ensured this is still a two-horse race.
VIXENS V LIGHTNING (55 – 56)
The Sunshine Coats Lightning beat the Melbourne Vixens by just one point in a thriller on Sunday afternoon
In front of a stunned Melbourne Arena, Stephanie Wood sealed the deal for her side with just three seconds remaining.
The Vixens fired early, getting out to a seven-point lead in the first half.
However, they failed to maintain their trademark sharp and attacking game style in the second half, losing their convincing lead.
With the two sides were neck in neck throughout the second half, it wasn’t until the 12th minute of the final term the Lighting constructed a two-goal lead.
A series of turnovers and penalties in the final seconds meant the game could have gone either way.
Yet, lucky for the Noeline Taurua’s side, the final whistle blew when it did, securing them top ladder position.
Whilst the win effectively crowned Lightning as the competition’s comeback queens, it also proved they can win under pressure – an important attribute come finals.
Captain Laura Langman was inspirational for her side, setting a relentless tone for her teammates in the final few minutes.
“It showed tonight both teams really wanted it and another 30 seconds it could have been a different story,” Langman said post-match
The loss means the Vixens have blown the opportunity to finish in the top two, sacrificing a double chance.
Yet, the clash was a tantalising taste of what may be to come in the impending finals series – with just one round to go, both sides are just gearing up.
FEVER V FIREBIRDS (62 – 68)
The Queensland Firebirds won their first game of the season, downing the West Coast Fever by six points.
The thrilling match was the perfect end to an invigorating round, with both sides neck in neck for most of the game.
Yet, with only two games remaining, the Firebirds were determined to bank a win before the season’s end.
The Fever’s defensive stocks took a pre-game hit, with star keeper and captain, Courtney Bruce being a late out with respiratory complaints.
Whilst they were quick to respond to their opponents first quarter blitz, West Coast lacked the attacking pressure to take a convincing lead.
The Queensland shooters played with confidence, using their bodies to create opportunities.
Goal attack Gretel Tippett shot spectacularly at 100 percent, earning her ‘Player of the Match’ honours.
“We waited a long time for this,” Tippett said post-match.
“We wanted to gain momentum going into next season.”
After an injury riddled 2019 campaign, the Firebirds side looked to find their connection, an immense positive going into next season.