The Collingwood Magpies have held off the Queensland Firebirds for a thrilling 68-65 Super Netball victory at Launceston’s Silverdome.
- The Magpies are placed fourth on the ladder following the win over the Firebirds
- Shimona Nelson starred for the Magpies, with 53 goals from 54 attempts
- Romelda Aiken contributed 34 goals for the Firebirds
With the West Coast Fever applying enormous pressure on both top-four contenders, the heat was on the Magpies and Firebirds to produce a statement of their finals intentions on Saturday.
Kim Ravaillion was sensational for the Firebirds, with 43 feeds and just four turnovers, but just could not do enough in the closing minutes to haul her team across the line.
Collingwood’s Ash Brazill, switched from wing defence to centre for the last quarter, made every big moment her own to help her side keep intact its unbeaten record at the venue.
Brazill’s inspired effort, including one desperate attempt to keep the ball from crossing the baseline, made the difference in an even contest.
The Firebirds led by three goals early in the last quarter but Brazill’s determination, and excellent shooting from player of the match Shimona Nelson (53 goals from 54 attempts), helped the Magpies hang on.
The win has the Magpies positioned fourth on the ladder with eight points, a win ahead of the fifth-placed Firebirds.
Magpies coach Nicole Richardson lauded the players for their efforts in stopping the Firebirds.
“I was super proud that they responded to the challenge,” she said.
“It’s probably one of the best games I’ve been involved with.”
Firebirds shooters Romelda Aiken (34 goals) and Gretel Bueta (18) could not land enough blows at any stage to rattle Collingwood.
Richardson would have been delighted with her team’s start in attack, which was expertly coordinated by goal attack Gabby Sinclair, who finished with 11 goals, including four from two-point range.
Even with Kelsey Browne’s impact blunted by Firebirds captain Gabi Simpson, Sinclair and centre Molly Jovic plotted various pathways into the shooting circle.
That tension in what was a gripping mid-court battle was not a huge shock. What was surprising was the dearth of positional changes.
Despite this becoming an era of rolling substitutes and impact players, not one rotation was made by either coach until the second half.
Firebirds coach Megan Anderson made a string of switches in the third term in a bid to wrestle back momentum from a Magpies outfit that embodied steadiness.
Tippah Dwan sank three super shots for the quarter, but her influence failed to have a long-term impact on Collingwood’s defence.