Giants shade Firebirds in Super Netball thriller

Adrian Warren |

The Giants’ Jamie-Lee Price had 21 goal assists, three gains and two intercepts.
The Giants’ Jamie-Lee Price had 21 goal assists, three gains and two intercepts.

The Giants kept their Super Netball finals hopes alive and dampened those of the Queensland Firebirds with a 71-67 home victory.

Neither team led by more than six at any stage in a hard-fought tussle at Ken Rosewall Arena on Sunday.

The match between the two bottom teams on the ladder was a desperate battle, with the winner  moving to within four points of a top-four spot.

It was the Giants’ third win in their past five games, as the Firebirds slipped to a sixth loss in their past seven.

The Giants were in front for most of the game, but the Firebirds kept plugging away and didn’t hit the front for the first time until two and a half minutes before halftime.

Each side had a number of scoring runs In a nip-and-tuck first half that ended with the sides locked at 37-37.

The Giants made three Super Shots in the last five minutes of the third quarter to take a 54-51 lead into the final quarter.

“I thought we showed more  improvement this week again and I was very, very happy that we were able to maintain the composure throughout the game,” Giants coach Julie Fitzgerald said.

“We’ve worked terribly hard on improving both our attack and defence.

“I thought we were more in the contest today and we were reasonably well in control when we had the ball in hand.

“I think there’s a great deal of improvement we can have. I think we saw signs today of how good we can be.”

The Giants had co-captains Jo Harten  and Jamie-Lee Price back from injury, though defender Tilly McDonell missed with an ankle sprain.

Midcourter Price accumulated a game equal-high 21 goal assists, three gains and two intercepts, and shooters Harten (35/41) and Sophie Dwyer (26/30) were steady at the attacking end, with the latter making eight of 11 Super Shots.

Diamonds squad member Dwyer made  as many two-point shots as the Firebirds took for the game, though Queensland had a slightly better overall shooting percentage.

Donnell Wallam (44/48) kept the pressure on the Giants, despite being checked for a slight knock in the third quarter.

The Firebirds got within two in the last quarter, but committed a few crucial errors.

“Execution in critical moments, I think that’s what it comes down to,” Firebirds coach Bec Bulley said.

While there was little separating the two teams in most categories, the Firebirds gave away 26 more penalties.

“Our penalties were way too high, it’s very hard to build pressure when you’re out of play,”  Bulley said.