Cracks have appeared in the NSW Swifts’ Super Netball title defence despite their 57-54 win over Adelaide Thunderbirds in Cairns on Saturday.
- The unconvincing win added to the Swifts’ recent indifferent form
- Sam Wallace topped the scoring for the Swifts with 27 points
- The Giants’ slim finals hopes vanished in a 71-66 loss to the Fever
Assured of a finals berth, the Swifts should have put away the seventh-placed Thunderbirds in the Indigenous Round fixture but instead gave coach Briony Akle some headaches ahead of next weekend’s final match of the regular season.
Fellow top-four side West Coast Fever won Saturday’s earlier match in Cairns, the 71-66 defeat of the Giants making sure they stayed third on the ladder, one spot ahead of the Swifts.
The Swifts had lost four of their past five matches before the road trip north and their confidence was further dented by the Thunderbirds, who found strength in a midcourt led by rising playmakers Maisie Nankivell and Georgie Horjus.
It took a final-quarter surge from goal attack Helen Housby — who scored 22 goals for the match — and brave milking of possession in the dying seconds for the Swifts to hold off the Thunderbirds.
“That was super tough. We always knew the Thunderbirds were going to come back,” Swifts centre Paige Hadley said.
“Leading into the finals we like matches like that to prepare us for tough games.
“More teams are going to come at us because we are the reigning champions. We need to develop the belief that we can do it again.”
Hadley was the shining light in the centre third, finishing the match with 24 assists and 42 feeds.
Lenize Potgieter’s 33 goals at 97 per cent accuracy gave the Thunderbirds a chance but the Swifts were clinical when the game was on the line.
Sam Wallace led the scoring for the Swifts with 27 points (25 goals, one super shot).
Season over for Giants
The sun has set on the Giants’ finals hopes following their loss to the Fever.
Fever coach Stacey Marinkovich underlined why she was selected to coach the national side, pulling all the right strings to spark a second-half fightback and keep alive the club’s chances of a top-two finish.
Both teams had much to gain. To snatch second spot, the Fever need to win each of their last two matches and rely on the Lightning to fall to the Vixens in the final round.
That finals thread was even thinner for the Giants who had no lifelines remaining and may rue not giving Diamonds captain Caitlin Bassett more court time throughout the season.
The same could not be said of Fever shooter Jhaniele Fowler, who is the season’s most prolific scorer after adding another 62 goals to her tally on Saturday.
Fowler also slotted two super shots to complete another dominant performance.
Jo Harten was the Giants’ top scorer with 34 points (24 goals, five super shots).