The final round of Suncorp Super Netball did not disappoint. Fans were spoilt with unexpected results and edge of your seat play, setting the scene for an unpredictable finals series.
GIANTS V FEVER (70 – 60)
Giants Netball made a gutsy final push for finals after downing the West Coast Fever by ten points on Saturday.
Yet, in a heartbreaking result for the Giants, Collingwood’s later win on Sunday meant they were knocked out of the top-four solely based on percentage.
The Fever contested strongly towards the end of the match, winning the final quarter by two points.
Therefore, following a drawn first term, the Giants were only able to bank two bonus points – a result which came back to haunt them with the Magpies’ victory.
After announcing her retirement earlier in the week, Kim Green starred in her final match, cementing her outstanding legacy in Australian netball.
The Giants win was largely instigated by the defensive work of Sam Poolman and Kristina Manu’a, who were able to shift the game’s momentum after the Fever took an early lead.
As Julie’ Fitzgerald’s side took their game to the next level, West Coast were forced to play catch-up.
It wasn’t until the final quarter when the Fever truly made the Giants earn every point.
However, persistence from the Giants, led by an impressive effort from Caitlin Bassett was simply enough to outclass their opponents.
“(I’m) really proud of what we put out there today,” Bassett said post-match
“With the announcement of Kimmy’s retirement this week, it’s great to have a win for her for her last home game.”
Whilst the Giants’ season has since come to an abrupt end, their 2019 season showed incredible promise, priming them for next year.
SWIFTS V FIREBIRDS (64 – 63)
The NSW Swifts were able to knock off the Firebirds by just a single point in a thriller at Sydney’s Qudos Bank Arena.
It what many would have assumed to be a walkover match for the Swifts, Queensland were not interested in finishing their 2019 season quietly.
Despite winning just a single match for the season, the Firebirds sent the second placed Swifts into a state of shock.
Yet, after recovering from a six-goal deficit, NSW reasserted themselves in the game.
It wasn’t until Helen Housby scored a goal in the final 30 seconds, that the Swifts grasped a victory.
While Briony Akle gave her bench players game-time in preparation for finals, such a lacklustre performance won’t cut it against the top four teams.
However, Paige Hadley insisted the learning’s from this match will be advantageous for her side heading into next Saturday’s semi-final against the Lightning.
“You want [these] sort of games that are back and forth,” Hadley told AAP.
“We know the Sunshine Coast is going to come down to the wire
“You have to stick to your structure and believe your process will come out on top.”
It will be important for the Swifts to find composure for a full four quarters, if they are to take it to the Lightning next weekend.
LIGHTNING V THUNDERBIRDS (58 – 37)
The Sunshine Coast Lightning strolled to a convincing win over the Adelaide Thunderbirds, securing their first ever minor premiership.
They now are just one win away from a Grand Final spot – a task which appears very doable following this dominant display.
The 21-point victory has primed the Lightning to send off departing coach Noeline Taurua in spectacular fashion, after she announced her retirement earlier this week.
However, a David and Goliath battle looked imminent early, when the Thunderbirds gained a four-point lead in the first quarter.
Yet, the Lightning turned up the dial on their defensive pressure, restricting their opponents to just 22 goals for the rest of the match.
Whilst the win means Sunshine Coast have secured a home final, goal attack Stephanie Wood insisted her side needed to improve their consistency after a slow start.
“(We are) looking for that four quarter performance,” Wood said post-match.
“I guess it’s a little frustrating for us at times because in the last 3 quarters we showed what we can do.”
Wood’s powerful leadership coupled with her dependably impressive play will go a long way in lifting her side.
If the Lightning continue their relentlessly prolific game style, they are well on their way to a Super Netball three-peat.
MAGPIES V VIXENS (58 – 47)
The Collingwood Magpies spectacularly qualified for Super Netball finals, after beating the Melbourne Vixens by 11-points on Sunday afternoon.
After the Giant’s earlier win, Collingwood needed at least three bonus points, plus an impressive percentage boost to ascend into top four.
Despite being on the same amount of game points, the substantial 11-point victory pipped the Giants’ ladder percentage.
The win will see next week’s minor semi-final become a Melbourne derby, with both sides facing off next Sunday at the State Netball Hockey Centre.
Collingwood’s line-up excelled in all thirds, with Geva Mentor being a pillar in defence, Nat Medhurst driving the attack and Ashleigh Brazil setting the midcourt tone.
“Hopefully we've got some momentum going into finals,” Magpies assistant coach Nicole Richardson told AAP.
We knew they could play that brand of netball, it's just taken a little bit to get it out of them.”
With Collingwood’s current form, Simone McKinnis will have her work cut out for her if the Vixens are to do some damage next Sunday.
While both sides are capable of winning when they are playing their best, the Magpies’ pressurised defence will be difficult for their opposition to penetrate.
Yet, the results of the this round have proven that anything is possible – a mantra which will be relevant for all sides playing in semi-finals next weekend.