Giant upset in Sydney derby; Fever cement top spot: Super Netball wrap

The West Coast Fever have cemented their place at the top of the Super Netball table, while last-placed NSW upset their cross-town rival Giants in the Sydney derby.

The West Coast Fever have cemented their place at the top of the Super Netball table, winning a thrilling game over the resurgent Collingwood Magpies by five goals in Perth.

They now sit a game clear of the second-ranked Melbourne Vixens.

It came down to the final five minutes of the game with no team going up by more than four at any point.

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The Magpies were out to a four-goal lead partway through the final quarter, but better management of the supershot period by the Fever saw them take the game away from an impressive Magpies outfit.

With Kelsey Browne wreaking havoc on the Fever defence, Sunday Aryang was pushed out to wing defence at the start of the fourth quarter and had an immediate impact, shutting off the easy access to the circle Browne had been enjoying prior to that. A key defensive gain by Stacey Francis-Bayman during the supershot period allowed the Fever to press their advantage.

Both teams had late outs with Magpies goal attack Gabby Sinclair and Fever midcourter Jess Anstiss ruled out with illness and a foot injury respectively. Nyah Allen came into the ten as a replacement player for Sinclair, making a cameo in the final five minutes, while Jordan Cransberg got some court time at centre as a replacement for Anstiss.

It was a high quality game with low turnovers and gains, as both teams worked to treasure the ball and used all their skills to keep the ball away from defenders. Fever coach Dan Ryan ran the changes in the midcourt and defence throughout the game in an attempt to stifle the quick ball in attack from the Magpies. The Magpies stuck with the same seven until the final five minutes of the game when Nyah Allen was brought on.

The Magpies had clearly done their homework. The feeders from the Magpies were placing their passes into Shimona Nelson with pinpoint precision to avoid the defensive work of Fever goal keeper Courtney Bruce.

The Fever had the best centre pass conversion of any team coming into the game and the Magpies identified this, looking to disrupt it in their centre pass defence by crowding the centre third and cutting off the run of Fever wing attack Alice Teague-Neeld who is so prolific in this area.

The Fever looked their strongest when they hit the circle edge and could feed the ball to Fowler with ease. However, they missed Jess Anstiss and struggled at times to work around the zone defences the Magpies were running.

West Coast Fever 74, Collingwood Magpies 69

A BATTLE OF WOULD-BE FINALISTS

While the Magpies had a slow start to the season, they have well and truly established themselves as finals contenders. This high quality game was an example of what we expect to see from the top teams, with low turnovers, little opportunity for gained balls in defence and accurate shooting from both teams.

A DIAMOND A DOZEN

With Gabby Sinclair ruled out for the game, questions would have been asked of Sophie Garbin, who was benched early in the Magpies’ last game.

Preferred in at goal shooter for the Diamonds, Garbin had a solid game at goal attack, slotting a supershot in the final moments of the all-important third quarter. Kelsey Browne continued to make a strong case for a Diamonds squad call-up, ending the game on 26 goal assists, 37 centre pass receives and four pickups.

MOTHERS DAY MAGIC

Jhaniele Fowler and Ash Brazill celebrated Mother's Day in style. Fowler has given up a lot to be in this league, spending extended periods of time away from her daughter. She was in her usual fine form, shooting 61/63 goals at 97%.

Continuing her strong run to the Commonwealth Games, Brazill was a strong presence for the Magpies, finishing the game without a turnover and coming up with gains and pickups at crucial points in the match. She was also instrumental in transition throughout the game.

GIANT UPSET IN SYDNEY DERBY

Blood was spilled all over the court in a frantic grand final rematch that saw the NSW Swifts pull off a stunning 52-43 upset against the GWS Giants at Ken Rosewall Arena on Sunday afternoon.

The Swifts headed into round eight holding the wooden spoon, after being thumped by the Firebirds 73-60 last week, and winning only one game in the first half of the 2022 season.

But after an eight-day break a wholly rejuvenated side stormed out to remind fans why they are the reigning premiers; defending their 2021 title with the clinical precision they brought to beat the Giants in the grand final last year.

NSW Swifts 52, Giants Netball 43

BLOOD DRAWN

Swifts wing defender Paige Hadley left the court with a bloody gash to her forehead in the final quarter, in scenes demonstrating the team’s sheer desperation to break its three-game losing streak and get back into finals contention.

“We needed to be smart; we knew what the Giants would bring and that’s certainly physicality and I think to counteract that we’ve got great speed,” said Swifts coach Briony Akle after the game.

“There’s always going to be bodies on the line in the Sydney derby.”

Hadley emerged from the changerooms post-match smiling with no stitches, but medical glue above her left eyebrow, plus a new nickname: Harry Potter.

PROUD’S PRIDE ON THE LINE

Swifts’ centre Maddy Proud played with the look of a desperate captain, knocking shoulders with any Giant in her way and regularly going to ground over every inch of court space.

Her ferocity attracted 12 penalties but the heaving Mother’s Day crowd didn’t seem to mind, roaring its approval over the umpire’s whistle every time she was knocked over then crawled back to her feet to continue her record onslaught of 57 goal circle feeds.

“We knew today was do or die. I think playing in the derby there’s always that little extra – everything’s on the line,” Proud said.

Swifts shooter Helen Housby capitalised on Proud’s razor-sharp feeds, scoring 35 points.

Even Giants’ star wing defence Amy Parmenter, playing her 50th game of Super Netball, looked lost in the rapid-fire offensive.

“This is a good reminder that we’ve still got a lot of work to do this season. It’s probably not a bad time for a wake-up call … We’ve got to work out how to continue to build consistency,” Parmenter said.

SUPER HARTEN SECOND-HALF

The Giants needed to find a second gear in the second half, and star shooter Jo Harten did her best to pump up the team with four Super Shots to claw back into contention.

The Giants came within three points, but the Swifts looked too good, holding Harten to just 22 points total, 10 lower than her 32-point average for the first half of the season.

Originally published as Giant upset in Sydney derby; Fever cement top spot: Super Netball wrap