Firebirds beat Giants to notch first Super Netball win

Steve Barrett |

Lara Dunkley (left) was outstanding as the Firebirds got their Super Netball season off the mark.
Lara Dunkley (left) was outstanding as the Firebirds got their Super Netball season off the mark.

Lara Dunkley has starred for the Queensland Firebirds as they notched their first win of the Super Netball season with a 65-62 defeat of the Giants at Nissan Arena.

Edged by one point in a heartbreaker last weekend in Adelaide, the Firebirds set up their follow-up triumph on Saturday with an authoritative 21-11 first term before staving off fightbacks from the Giants in the second and fourth quarters.

Wing attack Dunkley (25 assists, 43 feeds) was superb, linking beautifully with powerhouse shooter Donnell Wallam who connected on a perfect 19-of-19 in the opening frame, including a quickfire deuce to beat the quarter-time buzzer, to keep the bottom-placed Giants under the pump.

Donnell Wallam of the Firebirds catches the ball.
Donnell Wallam (right) connected on a perfect 19-of-19 in the opening frame for the Firebirds. (Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS)

“We’re so excited to get our first win,” player-of-the-match Dunkley said.

“We put in so much hard work this week and it’s incredible to see it all pay off.

“We’re really gelling and this is only the beginning for this group, so look out the rest of the season.”

Dunkley’s opposition wing attack Chelsea Pitman threw away four first-quarter turnovers to lose her battle with Hulita Veve, while Giants captain Jo Harten and circle partner Sophie Dwyer’s shooting radars were awry early.

The Giants recovered from their nightmare start with an improved showing after the break.

Defensively they calmed Wallam’s influence and at the other end centre Jamie Lee-Price started really connecting with Dwyer to trim Queensland’s advantage to 36-32 at the main interval.

The brilliant Dunkley racked up a staggering 20 feeds in a third-quarter playmaking and attacking masterclass as the Firebirds regained the ascendancy and took a 51-44 lead into three-quarter-time.

The Giants closed the gap to one goal when Harten nailed a super-shot penalty before Queensland’s pressing defence ensured the lead would remain safe, Wallam and Tippah Dwan continuing to cause issues in the home side’s circle down the stretch.

AAP