The NSW Swifts are on top of the Super Netball ladder after beating the West Coast Fever 66-65 at Melbourne’s John Cain Arena.
The Swifts top the standings ahead of the Lightning via a superior percentage
The Giants blew the chance to take top spot by going down to the Firebirds
The Thunderbirds stayed in the race for the finals by beating the Magpies
In Sunday’s second game in Melbourne, the Giants coughed up the chance to take top spot with a 63-52 loss to the Queensland Firebirds.
Meanwhile, the Thunderbirds recovered from an untidy start to notch a clinical 62-54 victory over the Collingwood Magpies in Adelaide.
Maddy Proud’s Swifts teammates honoured their captain’s 100-game milestone with their upset win over the Fever.
Super shots hailed in a frantic second half before the Swifts held possession for the final minute to deny what would have been the flying Fever’s eighth straight win.
Fever star Jhaniele Fowler was benched in the closing minutes to allow Alice Teague-Neeld and Sasha Glasgow room to sink a combined four fourth-quarter super shots but it was not enough to save the side from defeat.
National league centurion Proud was peerless with 31 feeds and a handful of deflections.
Sophie Garbin (31 goals) upstaged star defender Courtney Bruce, Sarah Klau stood up to Fowler (47 goals) and the Swifts’ entire midcourt stifled the in-form Fever feeders.
The win against fourth-placed Fever elevated the Swifts to the top of the standings on 24 points. They are equal on points with the Sunshine Coast Lightning but have a superior percentage.
Giants fumble shot at top spot
Doubt has crept into the Giants campaign, with their promising season now looking shaky after the defeat to the Firebirds.
A win at John Cain Arena would have launched the expansion side into first place but they were instead taught a lesson in desperation by Gabi Simpson’s Firebirds.
The Giants were the early pacesetters this season and topped the ladder after winning their first four games.
Since the arrival of winter, their campaign has wilted after losing four of their past five outings, including being put in their place by the Fever, Swifts and Lightning.
It was the fifth-placed Firebirds’ third win of the season, giving them a mathematical chance of sneaking into the finals and for that, they can thank a composed midcourt clinic from Kim Ravaillion and a fierce defensive performance from Simpson and Tara Hinchliffe.
Hinchliffe earlier this year earned promotion to the Australian Diamonds squad and she refused to be intimidated in her showdown with Giants star Jo Harten, who was restricted to 17 goals and three super shots.
Firebirds duo Romelda Aiken (39 goals) and Gretel Bueta (22 goals, one super shot) made the most of the opportunities handed to them from a ball won by their defenders.
Thunderbirds stay in finals race
After falling in an early 8-3 hole against the Magpies, the Thunderbirds bounced back strongly to control the remainder of the contest, piloted by Shamera Sterling, who was flawless in defence.
The athletic goalkeeper notched eight intercepts and five deflections while ensuring Magpies spearhead and fellow Jamaican Shamona Nelson had to work overtime for her 29 goals.
Thunderbirds wing attack Maisie Nankivell (46 feeds, 31 assists) piloted the initial rearguard before a slew of errors from the Magpies, combined with Sterling’s brilliance, kept the home side on top.
Lenize Potgieter shot 42 goals from 45 attempts for the Thunderbirds, while teammate Georgie Horjus managed 11 goals and four super shots.
“I thought we probably had control for the majority of the match,” Thunderbirds coach Tania Obst said.
“A focus at training had been reminding ourselves of the netball we had been putting out there and we did that for the majority of the game.
“I thought Shamera was brilliant in some critical moments for us.”
The Thunderbirds are in sixth place on the ladder following the win over the Magpies, trailing the Firebirds because of an inferior percentage.