Giants down Swifts in Super Netball derby
Adrian Warren |
A potentially serious injury to star shooter Sam Wallace was the final blow for the NSW Swifts as they started their Super Netball title defence with a 57-55 loss to local rivals the Giants.
With just over 12 minutes to go at Ken Rosewall Arena in the rematch of the 2021 grand final, the Trinidadian sharpshooter slipped and collapsed to the court clutching her right knee and screaming in pain.
Medical staff from both teams tended to her for several minutes before she was helped off the court.
“To hear her scream like that brings back memories of when Mads (Maddy Proud) and I did (an ACL). It’s absolutely devastating,” Swifts’ co-captain and midcourt star Paige Hadley said.
Trailing by three at the time, the understandably distracted Swifts conceded the next five goals but bravely rallied and cut the gap to just two inside the last two minutes.
“I thought our defence did an absolutely brilliant job and in attack we just didn’t cherish it,” Hadley said.
The Giants expertly retained possession for the remainder of the game, not allowing the Swifts another shot.
It was just the second out of the past seven NSW derbies played in Sydney and a crowd of 7261 produced a cracking atmosphere.
Before Wallace’s injury, no more than five goals separated the two fierce rivals in a hard-fought derby.
The away team Giants scored the first four goals but the Swifts hit back to lead 14-12 at the first break.
However, the Giants held the lead for much of the game with midcourters Jamie-Lee Price and Maddie Hay excelling and the uncharacteristically sloppy Swifts making 22 turnovers.
Wallace’s direct opponent Matilda McDonell also shone, taking on even more responsibility with Diamonds defender April Brandley playing just the first half as she was on managed minutes.
“I was really pleased with our composure, we’re a team that often has ebbs and flows,” Giants’ coach Julie Fitzgerald said.
.”I thought we were much more consistent across 60 minutes tonight.”
Wallace headed all scorers with 33 from 37 attempts.
Sophie Dwyer made 28 off 33 for the Giants and Jo Harten 25 of 34.AAP